Archive for November, 2014

Yolente Responds About Seamus

by on Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

Your Holiness, big brother, you stubborn ass.

Who knew that being the little sister of the most holy person in the kingdom would come with this kind of responsibility? Well as your sister I feel comfortable talking to you the way you need to be talked to. You, sir, are an arien fool.

I think you know what you must do, you are just trying to use your position to bully others into doing things the way you think they ought to be done. In that sense, I suppose, I agree with the Lord Regent. You are walking a very fine line, one that I don’t think you are doing a good job at.

Let us look at the facts, again, not thinking about personal motives or vendettas. A man attacked a woman. The woman defended herself. If you were in your right mind I think you would see that not only do the Reeves have the responsibility in this matter, the case in no way belongs to you or the inquisition.

You must weigh the merits of each case separately. Just because the woman is a mage, does not mean that she is not human. This is something you have pointed out to me on many occasions. Purging her taint is still your responsibility and one that you should see fulfilled, but his sins are not yours to forgive. The woman must see justice. She can stop the charges, if she wishes, but no one else has that power. Certainly not you.

What would you do if the woman in question was me? Not only would you stay out of the Reeve’s way, you would dispatch every inquisitor and knight you have at your disposal to find the perpetrator and deliver them in chains to the proconsul. Why should this woman be any different? The knights have performed admirably, there is no denying that, but now you must give the case to the rightful owner.

And what would Mother Rachel think of this? Would she be proud of you? I think you know the answer to that. By abandoning who you are, at your core, you become worse of a leader rather than a better one.

I am worried about you, Gerolf. I worry that you are losing yourself in your responsibilities. The mail is slow and I had to spend good coin to get this to you as fast as possible. I can’t always be there to set you strait. Find a friend you can trust, someone who will put up with you and start talking with them frequently. Remember who you are and why you were put where you are. You are there to help people, and letting someone live who should be put to death, is not helping people.

Now, since I have this new found authority, here is what you are going to do: You are going to seek out the Lady Justiciar, you are going to apologize and you are going to tell her how you really feel, and by how you really feel I think you know that I mean what I have told you here. Next you will go to the Lady Earl Marshall and His Holy Honor and you will tell them all of this and what the right answer is, if they have an issue with it, well that is their problem.

You will then seek out the Lord Regent and you will beg for his forgiveness. With a little bit of luck, he may forgive you. I think we all know both of you have gigantic manhoods. Continually measuring them is not doing either of you, or more importantly the kingdom, any good. Put them away.

Lastly, protect the knights and inquisitors. As you say, they have incredible power and provoking them won’t do anyone any good. They were just trying to help and see justice done.

Your little sister, adviser to the Cardinal,
Yolente von Kovrov

The Strange Case of Seamus Harper

by on Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

My dear Yolente,

I am very concerned about your latest letter. I was not aware that the children were sick. I will talk to the Prime Medicus here and see that she writes to the surgeon at home and make sure he understands the correct procedures for dealing with this illness. I cannot say she is a good friend of mine but we are familiar enough that I know she will help. Add that to the fact that I do not think she has an evil bone in her body.

I trust the wedding went smoothly. I have not yet seen Olga or Sven but, perhaps, them being Vandagan themselves they stopped in the city to enjoy a few of the luxuries that we cannot receive down here.

Yesterday saw a spike in magical activity in this city. First there was a sheet of fire that sealed the entrance into the cathedral. In my haste I ran through it and burned my feet. I may have fainted. Please do not tell the children that. I want them thinking that their uncle is still a strong important man, even though, clearly, I am not. Then the Magnate’s horse was put down and the woman blinded by another mage. Thankfully the Grand Inquisitor was at hand.

There is an issue I am facing that I wish your honest answer on. Normally I would go to the Lord Regent with this issue, but I fear I may have said some things that I did not mean in a letter to him. I imagine that it will take a great many months to smooth over those wounds. His stubbornness rivals only mine, which is not always a good thing.

My situation is this: I fear I have staked my reputation on the life of a man not worth saving. Almost a year ago a man attacked a woman in cold blood. The details are unclear and the only real testimony we have is that we know the man and the woman were lovers. We know that the man has close ties with the Brotherhood of Common Goods, a sort of gang that runs the southside of the city. We know that the woman was suspected of, and has now been confirmed as, a mage. He confessed to the attack but he claims it was in self-defense as he was attacked by a mage. The mage was a major figure in the city and was generally well liked. At the time of the attack all of the city sympathized with her, except for a few of the inquisitors and the knights.

I was just an acolyte at the time and was not told much until after I took the office of Grand Inquisitor, even then it was that she was dead. It wasn’t until I saw her go into Her Holiness’ office that the truth of the matter was revealed to me. This is what would start a long tale that ends with me wishing the man had never existed.

At the time I would have just as soon saw the man hang as forgive him. It is true that a part of me still feels that way. However promises were made by others that I must uphold. I cannot appear weak in the face of strife. Further, he confessed to me, and me alone as his confessor. Church law and my own morals feel that there is more to the story than what is being told to the public.

What I learned in my time as Grand Inquisitor is to be critical of the evidence. As a member of the Holy Inquisition you are not only above the Law, you are the Law. As such you cannot trifle with the lives of people. You must move swiftly but fairly and when you do light the pyre you must be absolutely sure of your decision. I do not think the Reeves are equipped nor have the expertise to conduct a proper investigation at this level of visibility. While I respect, and generally like, the current Lady Justiciar, their actions have been increasingly sloppy of late. So sloppy in fact that if the current magistrates were inquisitors I would not trust them with any case. Can we trust justice to be served under such conditions? I do not know how the Lord and Saints will inspire the Reeves, but I have my doubts.

In my opinion, as an inquisitor, the evidence is muddy at best. We are faced with the word of a known thief versus the word of a known mage. The only other concrete information we have is the testimony provided by the Prime Medicus who said that the wounds to him were likely defensive while the wounds on the woman were not. I have a storm of sworn character testimony both for and against the man. For someone accused of attempted murder, he has a lot of people who consider him a friend.

Had this been my case, I do not think that it would be enough to brand him a heretic. I would love to give the man to the Reeves and put this whole mess behind me, but then the man did something wholly unexpected: He turned himself into the Lady Earl Marshall.

Come to find out the Lady Earl Marshall and the Archbishop, along with several others who expect to me to support their cause, had promised him protection if he came forward to the church. Now, I would like to pause for a moment and point out that my inquisitors were able to do what the Reeves were not. I don’t bring this up to besmirch the Reeve’s abilities, but only to highlight the incredible skill and professionalism that the Knights and Inquisitors have. When the Reeve’s came to us for help, the Knights answered. We found there missing person, even if events transpired against us.

We had him. He was in the Lady Earl Marshall’s house while I talk to the then Lord Justiciar, with whom I had come to an understanding. Then the Arien fool left our protection. We didn’t have enough time to question him and get him to safety, to fulfill our promise to him. He went into hiding in the southside, under the Brotherhood’s protection.

Then the fool walked into a coffee shop with the Lady Justiciar, the Lady Earl Marshall, two other Reeves, and His Grace. He was promptly arrested and hauled off to the tower. This is where the story becomes complicated. As if it wasn’t already the dull headache in the back of my head. It is one of the things that has increased my drinking.

I had never expected to die on this hill, on the hill over the soul of one man who, really, I have no interest in. Frankly I could not care less about what happens to the man. What I care about is what will happen to me. Do I betray the Reeves and put a halt to this mess and smuggle him out of the city, or do I betray the knights and let the Reeves put them to death?

Neither option appeals to me very much. I feel like I have been backed into a corner by my friends. The Lord Regent even accused me of abusing my authority! I politely reminded him that he shouldn’t abuse his either.

I could put this issue to rest with a stroke of my quill. It is out of respect for those I thought were friends that I have stayed my hand. I have even turned over Order documents in the hopes that our investigation will be taken into account. As you know that has taken me swallowing my pride. What you may not know, is that releasing documents take the approval of the Grand Inquisitor or higher. I do not think they know how much I am trying to help.

So, dear sister, what should I do? All of the people who I would trust, or burden, with this information seem to have turned against me, or have come with their own opinions. It is by the inspiration of the Lord alone that I have lasted this long.

Pray that cooler heads prevail. Pray that SOME one will relent. I will not betray my knights, but I cannot betray the Reeves.

~Gerolf

The Lady Karrina ab Vazien

by on Saturday, November 8th, 2014

My dear Yolente,

Please don’t give me that guilt trip. You know I would be there if I could be. I will send Sven and Olga, two of my favored assistants, a priest and an inquisitor respectively, to come and supervise the wedding in my absence. I am sure Cousin Dietrich will be very happy with his new bride and I guarantee that her former lover will not be disrupting the wedding. Olga can be very… temperamental when it comes to disrupting religious ceremonies. I think the last person to interrupt a funeral that she was attending ended up on the pyre not but three days later. I promise you, nothing will happen.

Svetlana is five?! How could I have let this happen? I will send Sven with three gifts for her and two for Oskar. I can’t promise they will be much, but I do want them to remember me. Being their uncle is a task I take very seriously and I will spare no resource to make up for the time I cannot spend with them.

I promised I would tell you stories about all of the interesting people I have met during my time in the city. Perhaps it is best that I start with the Lady Earl Marshall and her soon to be husband, the former Lord Justiciar.

Speaking honestly, Karrina ab Vazien is one of the hardest women in the world. She is battle tested, cool under pressure, and fiercely loyal to her convictions. In fact, there have been situations where when your brother lost his temper she proved to be one of the few people to talk me down and explain the flaw in my logic. She would have made an excellent Vandagan.

The drawback, however, to this is that she is notoriously hard to read. I have developed some skill at it, though I must confess that it is a minor skill at best. I have seen her chuckle, but that is about the only emotion other than her normal cool demeanor. I think most people who don’t know her would think that she doesn’t like them, however, I have come to decide that it isn’t a lack of caring, but more so a lack of wanting to become emotionally invested in anyone. There is one obvious, and notable, exception: her betrothed.

Lord, or rather Master, Terryn dul Valistovos is an interesting man. I think I shall leave the majority of our stories to another letter as they are numerous and sometimes difficult to explain. However I must bring him up for the simple fact that he is betrothed to the Lady Earl Marshall, and, in my opinion, they have both affected changes in each other that astonish me, but, I think, will make them better people in the long run.

I originally met the Lady Earl Marshall when I was still seeking membership in the order and she was a Squire with the knights. Frankly, from the moment I met her, she frightened me. Yet for some reason she signed my sponsorship papers. I have never understood why, and in fact labored for several months under the impression that the only reason she sponsored me was so that I owed her a favor. I have come to believe that she does not view our relationship that way, but that, perhaps, she approved me because she saw something in me that I did not see myself. Of course she could have approved me because it would have gotten me out of her face. The latter is definitely more likely.

Fast forward a few weeks and I saw my first magical attack. It was not as glamorous as the bards make it out to be. In fact, if you were wondering, most mages who choose to act in an aggressive manner, will do so from as far away as possible. I myself have been struck by what is known as the “Breathbinder” spell. It is not life threatening, but it is terribly uncomfortable. The spell was likely cast miles from where I was at the time. I never found out who attacked me, though I do have my suspicions.

Anyway, the first attack, Squire ab Vazien was one of the first people on the scene, ready to take on whoever she found. The attack was headed up by someone calling themselves, “The Raven,” I believe. While the mage was never caught she was diligent in securing the perimeter and tending to the wounded. Her methodical approach was one that I found quite admirable.

For the next several months I confined myself mostly to the rectory, preforming my studies and developing my priestly skills. I would see her sporadically, but it was never socially and almost always by coincidence. From my experience, she was always one of the first ones on the scene when trouble arose.

It was for these reasons that, shortly after the events that led me to become Grand Inquisitor, she was made a Knight in her own right. I would never tell her this, of course, but I was surprised it took as long as it did. Time and time again she proved her dedication to the precepts of this Holy Order. Who am I to say, however, what path the Lord inspired the previous Earl Marshall to not promote her sooner? Everything in its proper time.

As I made my way through the clerical ranks, so did Lady Karrina move her way through the knight ranks. Shortly after becoming Cardinal, she was a key figure in an internal political movement that saw her predecessor resign from his office, and her accepting the Lord Regent’s offer for her to take it.

I can’t say I was displeased with the move. I have enjoyed working with both Earl Marshalls and I do consider her predecessor a close friend. Yet, I find the lady to be easy to work with and diligent in her job.

I have to say, though, that I find her demeanor has softened some since she decided to take Mister dul Valistovos as a husband. I find our conversations to become increasingly pleasant and jovial. This does not mean that she has abandoned her ideals, far from it. No, I think her marriage is a good thing.

That is all I have to say about that, dear sister. There are many other stories I have regarding her, but most will just cause you to worry. I can’t have that now can I? Give the children my love and tell them that I miss them. I hope they enjoy their gifts. I hope you all enjoy a happy new year. I will write again soon.

All my love,

Gerolf

Letter to Yolente

by on Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

My dear sweet sister,

How long has it been since I last wrote to you? Too long. When last I wrote you I was still an acolyte serving in the Cardinal de Medina. Oh how much has changed since I first came to the city!

For starters, I am now the Cardinal. I am still not sure why High Synod invested me with this authority. It is certainly not something that I am entirely prepared for, yet one that that I must shoulder with the responsibility to tend to the people not only of this city, but of the kingdom.

If Diric could see me now! I know, I know, I should put that sorted affair behind me but that is a wound that will run deep and one that I will likely bear the rest of my life. He is a mean and spiteful man that must accept that his sin has hurt others before we can start the healing process.

I trust mother and father are still well. I have not heard from you any differently, so I assume that father is still the Baron’s chief steward. I also assume that Cornelis is well on his way to becoming his replacement. Cornelis has always put duty above everything else, so I have no doubt that he will serve as an enduring legacy to our family.

I also assume that all is well with you. I assume that your marriage to Olof is still happy and healthy. My darling niece must be, what, four now? That would make Oskar two or three. I feel like such a horrible uncle for having forgotten these things. Please tell me how many birthdays I have missed and I will ensure that presents are delivered with my next letter.

I am sure you are interested to know about how I, of all people, came to be the leader of our faith. To be honest, I wonder that myself. I will, however, attempt to relate as much of what I have seen and done in this last year. There are some things I do not wish to talk about, either because I have forgotten or because they are too gruesome to saddle you with.

As you know, following the argument with Diric, I resolved to dedicate my life to the church. Having no romantic prospects and having assisted Mother Rachel for so long it seemed like the most logical choice for me to make. Further, is this instance, Diric was right: If I did not join the church, my life would amount to nothing.

Oh how I missed those days, serving Mother Rachel! Life was simpler then. I was the servant, ensuring that the poor were fed, the chapel clean and loved ones were comforted. That is why I joined the ministry. That is what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to go to the city, become ordained and return home to live out my days near you and your family that I might serve as Rachel’s replacement and still as your big brother.

On arriving in the city I became an acolyte under Cardinal de Medina and studied under mother Yvelle von Raspin. Mother von Raspin and I, both being from Vandango, became good friends almost immediately. In many ways, Mother Yvelle was my first friend in the city and perhaps guided me in my path almost as much as Mother Rachel.

A few months passed and Her Holiness resigned from that position, for reasons that were never fully explained to me. She can still be seen around the cathedral from time to time, though her duties often take her to her homeland, Farin. At least I presume that is where she goes. I have never been told where she goes, or what takes her there, but I do know that whatever she does, she does it full of grace.

To my surprise, and unending joy, my mentor, Mother Yvelle, became the next Cardinal. With her assentation came her appointment of me to the role of Grand Inquisitor. Yet again this was one of Dav’s inspirations that I have yet to fully understand. I took the position, however, because of the trust Yvelle put in me to fulfill that role.

Now I won’t lie to you, my dear sister, I was not a great Grand Inquisitor, but I did manage to save a few souls. I looked into the darkness of people’s souls and for the first time I saw the fear that many of them had, about who they were and what they had become. I say to you, that you should love mages. Love them the person. The person has hopes and dreams. They have mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers. They fear who they are and what they have become. Hate the taint that grows with in them, turning these normal people into deformed beings worthy of only the most extreme cleansing. Pray for them, Yolente, for they need it the most.

It was about this time that I met some of the people I have grown to call friends. I truly am hard pressed to name a great number of them, yet they are there, if I need them. Aurther Auguste has been my mentor since I took the role of Grand Inquisitor. While aloof and somewhat withdrawn he is also wise and knowledgeable. Next is Lord Tomas ab Jinosa, Count of Vees, Lord High Steward. The man is stoic but has the strongest moral compass. He has been able to set me aright when I doubted my decisions. Lady Karrina ab Vazien, Earl Marshall. While perhaps the most withdrawn of them all, she is a reliable voice in the darkness. Had they both not found love in the arms of other people, Lord Tomas and Lady Karrina would have made a good couple. Lastly, but not least, is the Grand Magnate, Zeita von Zarrova. It is rare to meet a fellow countrymen, even if she is from the city. Her accent is soft, but she still enjoys my jokes.

As I list off these names I am surprised that the third son of the Head Steward of a minor Lord can count some of the most powerful people in the realm as friends and allies. If you had asked me growing up if I would even get to meet the Lady Earl Marshall I would have called you a liar and a fool.

Anyway as I return to my story, I was only Grand Inquisitor for a few months before our Blessed Holy Mother was taken from us. Her Holiness went on a pilgrimage to the springs and never returned. As Grand Inquisitor it was left to me to run the church in her absence. In my rage, I committed several sins to get back at the mage I assumed had taken her. I have come to believe that it was not this mage but some other force. Apparently I did a good enough job running the church in Yvelle’s absence that the High Synod appointed and consecrated me as Cardinal and Patriarch.

I must be honest with you, however, since I feel I can be honest with no other. Despite being the most powerful man in all of the Holy Order, most days I still feel like that neophyte helping Mother Rachel. I fear for my life some days and others I feel lost in the void, unclear as to what path I should take. I wish Rachel was still here. I wish Yvelle was here. Most importantly I wish you were here.

That brings us to today. Many other events have transpired, so many that I could write you more letters on this subject. Maybe that is what I will do, write you letters about my adventures and stories about my friends. I know you were the one with hopes to come here to the city, and someday I wish for you to bring the kids down here and visit me.

I must warn you though, due to one particularly gruesome mage attack, I have lost all the hair on my head. I have tried to re-grow my beard but it grows in spotty and of varied colors. The hair on the top of my head will not grow at all. Only my eyebrows remain, thick and black with hints of grey starting already. That particular mage was pyred.

I will try to write you again soon. Perhaps I will tell you of the adventures of my friends. Maybe I will start with my interactions with the Lord Regent (Yes, I know! I am friends, or at least on a first name basis, with the Lord Regent himself!). Know that wherever I am, wherever I go, my thoughts and prayers are always with you and the kids. Though I have been accused of abusing my power, my apparently considerable power, if you need anything, please ask. I can make things happen.

Love you always, Your doting brother,

 

Gerolf

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