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Evangelium Luciferum (OOC / Invite-Only)

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Reverend Norv
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Founded: Jun 20, 2014
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Evangelium Luciferum (OOC / Invite-Only)

Postby Reverend Norv » Mon Mar 11, 2019 8:42 am

  • While all aspects of this RP will remain consistent with forum rules, this is also a historical horror story about a time in history when corruption, violence, bigotry, and fear were all par for the course. Players can expect violence, cruelty, disturbing sexuality, religious fanaticism, and other such upsetting content. Unless we are free to deal seriously with disturbing material, then there is no point in telling a story about the Middle Ages, much less the Inquisition. So if graphic content is traumatizing to you by reason of age or past experiences, then I advise you to follow or participate in this RP only with due caution. Thank you.
  • This RP deals with a little-known and much-misunderstood period of human history. I will try to provide a feel for the time and place, both OOC and IC, but I also expect you to do the research to fact-check your own posts, and to edit those posts if I find egregious errors therein. If this is unacceptable to you, then you need not waste your time by reading any further.
  • Some may object that this RP paints an overly rosy picture of the medieval inquisition. This is not an unreasonable objection. So I want to make very clear right at the beginning: the inquisition was an instrument of tyranny and terror. The fact that, in this RP, it is a force opposed to actual demons is entirely ahistorical. This is fiction, and should be taken as such.



EVANGELIUM LUCIFERUM
PRELUDE TO APOCALYPSE

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Vallis Lacrimarum

Beatus vir cui est auxilium ab te ascensiones in corde suo disosuit in valle lacrimarum in loco quem posuit.
(Blessed is the man whose help is from Thee; in his heart he is disposed to ascend from this vale of tears, in the place that He hath laid.)

Psalm 83 (84)


* * *

BROTHER MATIAS


It was not always thus.

Do you know the story of the Tower of Babel? You can see it in one of the windows of the cathedral at Paderborn, when the sun shines bright to set the stained glass all aglow. The story goes like this: once, men were united, and spoke a single language. They could do anything. They raised great buildings, and vast cities, and conquered the world. And their pride grew terrible. So they built a mighty tower, seeking to reach Heaven and become like God. But the Almighty smote them, and scattered them in their pride, and confused their language, so that they would scratch a meager living from the unforgiving earth, and live out their days in blood and pain.

We were giants once. Look around! Do you see the crumbling aqueducts, stretching across countless leagues of land, dry as bones for centuries? Do you see the pillars standing lonely after all these ages, and the heathen temples alone on haunted hilltops shunned by the common folk? Have you seen Rome, a village lost amid the ruins of a vast and shattered city, where people walk with their eyes downcast for fear of the shadows that move through the decaying foundations that go on and on forever?

And now look at us. Scattered. Divided. Our speech confused. I can read; did you know that? Sometimes, when I tell peasants that I can read, they kneel and kiss my hand, and ask me to heal their livestock or bring the rain. You are a traveler, aye – but look around! Look at that village over there, near the cloister. How far do you think the people there will ever travel? Five miles, to market? Twenty, if one local lord calls on them to fight another? If they go any further, they will have fled the land to which they are bound, and their lord will have them strung up from a gibbet. So here they live, and here they die. They are born in filth, and suffering is their birthright. They go their whole lives without bathing, or reading, or resting. They shiver in the winter and swelter in the summer and work their hands to the bone and beg God to save them from the callous cruelty of violent men and the terror that waits in the dark beyond their crumbling shacks. They die young, wracked by plague and starvation, without ever having known anything but toil and squalor.

Do I sound contemptuous? It is hard not to be. When people live so much like animals, the line between man and beast grows blurred indeed.

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But at least the common folk have innocence, of a kind – the innocence of beasts who do not know enough to sin. Their worldly betters are not so lucky. Look at that tower on the hill above the village. You can see such towers above such villages all across Christendom. There dwells a man like any other, no more literate or wise than those he rules – but well-fed, fat and strong, with meat on the table every night and clean rushes on his floors every morning. And he has a hauberk of steel mail and a sword that is worth more than any peasant’s yearly crop, and he has learned to use it since he was a little boy. He is a brute, a bully, a man whose power flows from fear alone – but he is not without talent. He cannot read or write or do sums, but he can kill with ease and facility and a clear conscience. And that is all he needs, for his serfs will put food on his table and clean rushes on his floor and pretty girls in his bed, and what more does a warlord require than that? Killing is enough to keep the lord in his tower and the peasants in their shacks. It separates the men from the beasts.

The old scholars speak of a great chain of being, ordained by God, in which each man has subjects and a sovereign. The peasant is set above his wife but beneath his lord. The lord is set above the peasant but beneath his king. The king is set above his king but beneath the angels. The angels are set above kings but beneath God. And so on. Each thing in its place.

Perhaps that was true once. I do not think that it is true now. My brother is a merchant. He buys wool from England and sells it as cloth in Turin. He travels every year. He can read and do sums. His yearly revenues exceed the total wealth of many a petty baron. But my brother has no land, and he cannot use a sword, and he must bow and scrape whenever a warlord rides by him on the road – or he will not live to see the morrow. There are more and more like my brother, men of the world who trade for their wealth instead of killing for it. I wonder, where do they fit in the old scholars’ great chain of being? Above whom are the merchants set, and whom do they serve?

They serve kings, I suppose. I have seen many kings in my time, some wise and some foolish, some great men and others petty. Some were cruel by design; the rest, merely by accident. Today, there are only a few that matter.

Henry Plantagenet rules in England, Normandy, Aquitaine, Wales, and more besides. He is an old man now, father to wastrels and fools, lord of an empire that speaks a dozen languages and cannot long outlast his passing. His wife is Eleanor, a great woman in her own right, cultured and conniving. Ten years ago, his wife and sons made common cause with the King of France and the King of Scotland, and rebelled: Henry outlasted them all. Ten years before that, Henry’s knights murdered the Archbishop of Canterbury, Saint Thomas a Becket. England is yet a green and pleasant land, full of wool merchants and powerful barons, and Aquitaine’s courts flow with wine and are filled with troubadours. But Henry is a godless man, cruel and power-hungry; his virtues are cunning and raw will, not piety or mercy.

In France, the young king Philip rules, though his writ scarcely runs outside of Paris. Yet withal, he is a stubborn man, ambitious and brave. He has made war with his vassals, and with King Henry and his sons, and where his law does run, no man dares brook it. He is a great reviler of the Jews, and has cancelled all debts made to them, and taken much of their wealth for himself, to fund his great new wall around Paris. And in the southwest, the territory contested between Henry and Philip, heresy flourishes: the teachings of the perfecti, who say that the material world is altogether evil, and that the God of Abraham is Satan in disguise.

In old Hispania-that-was, King Alfonso of Castile fights a ceaseless war against the heathens of Andalusia. Eight years ago, he achieved a great victory at Cuenca, and he has united all the Christian kingdoms of the peninsula in alliance. He is yet young, a great scholar and warrior, broad-minded to a fault: they say that his true love is a Jewess, and that they meet in secret in the warm Spanish night. His realm is split between Christians and Mohammadans, and though it is heir to much culture and learning, it is also rife with strife and violence. Mobs and fanatics roam the rocky roads of Castile, seeking not so much the infidel as the weak. I fear for Castile; I fear for what this endless crusade will do to the soul of that unhappy kingdom.

Today, though, it is Emperor Frederick who is the most powerful man in Europe, suzerain over the Germanies and much of Italy. Red-bearded and mighty in battle, a man whose intelligence and charisma are equaled only by his arrogance and ambition, he found the Imperial throne a symbolic honor and used it to break the power of all the great lords of Bavaria and Swabia and Saxony. Now he reigns supreme over the endless hills and dank forests of Germania, from the shores of the Rhine to the pagan wilderness of the Wends. But decades of war have not sufficed to allow Frederick to impose his will upon the proud merchant cities of northern Italy; there, the Lombard League inflicted a terrible defeat upon him eight years ago, and forced him to recognize their rights and liberties.

The Italians did not do this alone. At that time, their greatest ally was the Pope, Alexander III. For more than thirty years, he foiled Frederick’s dream of dominion in Italy. But he died three years ago, and this new Pope Lucius is not his equal: though he reviles the Emperor as much as any man, his eightieth year is already past, and he has not the energy or wisdom left to oppose Frederick. He sees the tide of heresy rising in Christendom, and he has commissioned legates to oppose these minions of the Devil and to bring them to justice. But the ancient roads of Rome – built by giants, men say – are a memory, a ruin. And the Pope’s writ runs not far outside of Italy’s pleasant vineyards and bustling markets, where gold carries more weight than a thousand knights. It is not so elsewhere.

And what of the Second Rome? The Empire of the Greeks, ancient and powerful, with its perfumed courts and eunuchs? The years since the Crusade have been kind to Byzantium. For forty years, the Emperor Manuel drove back the Turks from his borders; he traded with the Venetians and Genoese, and was a friend to the Kingdom of Jerusalem; he funded great mosaics and churches, letters and learning. Truly, Constantinople remains the city of the world’s desire, the one place where the glories of the ancients shine undimmed. But Manuel died four years ago, and his ten-year-old son was overthrown by the Emperor Andronikos – for the Greeks feared that the boy was too close to the West. Andronikos massacred every Frank and Latin he found in Constantinople when he took it, and he has spent the last year imprisoning and banishing many great men of the Greeks, for fear that they will overthrow him in his turn. From Epirus to Antioch, in all the ancient forums of the world’s oldest cities, men tremble under the tyrant’s heel.

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Worse things still lie outside the borders of Christendom altogether. In Spain, gone are the days of tolerance and wisdom, when Christian and Jew and Muslim lived side by side in cities so filled with beauty and craft that they hardly seemed built by the hands of men. The Almohads, fanatics from deep in the mountains of Africa, now reign in Andalusia, and all the grace and scholarship of six centuries languishes beneath their puritanical rule. In the East, a great lord of the Saracens known as Saladin has united Syria and Egypt and now stands poised to advance upon Jerusalem with a hundred thousand men: they say he is a man of wisdom and chivalry, mighty in battle, and the greatest foe the Crusaders have ever faced. Under his leadership, the scattered lords of the Saracens have united, and now all the wealth and wisdom and power of those rich and ancient lands is turned toward the Leper King in Jerusalem. Meanwhile, far to the north, the Wends and Finns and other tribes still worship their pagan gods in the endless forests of the East, where God’s word is unknown and no Roman foot ever trod. And though the crusaders, Germans and Danes and Swedes, venture ever further into those forests, they are no closer to overcoming the Wends: for I do believe that those pagan woods may go on forever, to the uttermost ends of the Earth.

In the face of such threat, many believe that the sentinels on the frontiers of Christendom must be vigilant against any breath of heresy or compromise. But I have traveled far on my pilgrimages, and I know that it is not so. On the island of Sicily, wrested from the Saracens by Norman knights these last hundred years, Greek and Saracen and Latin and Norman live side by side, each speaking the other’s languages, each suffering the other to worship in peace, each learning by the other’s wisdom. It is so even in the Kingdom of Jerusalem, where Jew and Christian and Mohammadan all pray together in the very streets where our Lord preached and perished. Some say that the men of such places have set aside the very soul of Christendom, and embraced godless ways and Eastern luxuries. For myself, I know only that by such tolerance the peace is kept, and that is rare enough in these years of sorrow.

And what of the Church? Christ’s body is rent by heresy and schism. The Pope in Rome has been chosen by the Italian cities these many years, from the nobility of one petty republic or another. The great monasteries of the Rule of St. Benedict, now many centuries old, have grown fat and lazy and corrupt off their vast lands and flocks. In some cities, the bishops are so powerful as to govern all worldly affairs, and rule from rich palaces; in others, they are but the cat’s-paws of local barons. The bishops' men terrorize harmless midwives and healers, seeking witchcraft while simony and corruption flourish under their noses. Half the priests in the villages of Europe cannot even read the Scriptures; the other half are married, in violation of all canon law. And too many, I fear, still offer secret sacrifice to the ancient spirits of the forest and the mountains, devils from the world’s beginning masquerading as gods.

But in the end, I say, no matter. This world is a veil of tears, and it is soon to end. The signs are everywhere apparent; things move toward completion. Soon Christ will descend, in great power and glory, and every village churchyard shall yaw and gape to give up its dead, and the world shall be purified like iron in the crucible, purged of all sin and made new. The end is near; on this all the wise men of the Earth agree. And so, though it was not always thus, we shall not for much longer be consigned to labor in the ashes of long-lost wonders. I believe, old as I am, that my eyes shall not see death before all things are made new, and this broken world is set ablaze from end to end with the cleansing fire of God.


* * *


Quaerens Quem Devoret

Sobrii estote, et vigilate: quia adversarius vester diabolus tamquam leo rugiens circuit, quaerens quem devoret.
(Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.)

1 Peter 5


* * *

PRIOR ARTURO


First and foremost, you must understand that you will never be certain. There are monsters, and devils, and worse things in the dark places of the world. There are also baseless rumors and nameless fears. And the line between the two will never be clear for the children of God who work His will in the shadows.

Some say that there are basilisks, for example, who rule over all the serpents of the world. For one such beast to look upon a man is instant death. I have never seen a basilisk, yet its existence is well attested in the works of Pliny the Elder, to whom all ancient wisdom was known, and so I do believe that they exist. On the other hand, men also speak of dragons high in the mountains above Trent. They descend to burn up whole flocks of sheep with flame from their maws. I have never seen such a creature either, but they do sound very close to some accounts of certain demons of Hell, and so perhaps these are those same servants of the devils distorted in the tales of ignorant shepherds. Such are the ambiguities of our profession.

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Some things are less ambiguous. The sea, for example, is full of dangers. Vicious serpents dwell there that can crush a ship in their coils; vast, spiny turtles pose as islands, and devour all those who step onto their shells. All of this is well-reported by multiple accounts. Sirens, too, there are, as Homer attests: half-serpent, half-virgin, whose songs entice sailors to drive their ships onto the rocks, that the fiends might seize upon them and eat them alive. Some say that these are but song and legend, a metaphor for Satan’s wiles – but there are many wise men who say otherwise. Perhaps even Leviathan of the Scriptures still lurks in the deep, that prince of Hell who swallows up the living and whose mouth is a very portal to the unquenchable flame.

Nor, in the depths of night when the clouds veil the moon, are the gates of life and death sealed so tightly as many believe. The spirits of the dead may yet linger, set loose from Purgatory to atone for their sins or to enjoin the living to repent – or even released from Hell for a season, to do frightful service to their master the Devil. Sometimes, great armies of such revenants may even be seen upon deserted battlefields or atop ancient hill forts. If they are sent from Hell, a priest may exorcise them with the proper training and a vibrant faith; but if the ghosts are of Purgatory, then they must be allowed to complete their purposes, which are of God – however terrifying they may be to mortals.

Often, it can be hard to tell the difference between ghosts and spirits. In isolated villages, deep in the woods or swamps or mountains where a priest passes through only a few times a year, men still offer beer and bread to the spirits of rock and water and sky. These are the demons of old, who won all of Europe to their worship before the light of Christ came in the Church: Satan’s most powerful minions, who masquerade under a thousand different names. And in the most remote corners of Christendom, they still demand sterner sacrifices still: the blood of virgins, or even children, shed on stone altars thousands of years old in the name of Perun or Wotan or some other spirit known only in a single isolated valley lost to time.

No darker things than the spirits of the Pit lurk in the forgotten places of Christendom. But…larger things do. There are tales of giants in the frozen north and in the mountains of Persia, monsters more than twice the height of a man that can pick up an armored horse and skip it like a pebble. Surely these are the descendants of the Goliath of the Scriptures. And all across the Germanies and England, men say that hideous trolls lurk beneath bridges, emerging only to demand of passersby a fee for passage. These may not be Satan’s minions, but they are certainly his creations, perversions of man’s frame and stature set to the destruction of good Christians.

There are stranger things still, in some regions of the world: more cunning and devious than any troll. In the isles of England and Scotland and Ireland, there is said to exist an entire realm of faerie, hid just beyond the eyes of men, with its own kings and queens and knights. All are capable of terrible magic, and they steal away children in the night. And in the deserts of Africa and the East, strange creatures are said to dwell: catlike sphinxes and ghostly djinn. All, faeries and djinn alike, delight in riddles and in subtle traps, playing tricks on men that lead them into temptation or captivity or shameful death. Only by prayerful caution and the sharpest of wits may a man escape their grasp. I know not whether these stories are true, but the Adversary is surely cunning enough to employ such wily servants.

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Not all of these creatures may rightly be called demons, though all are servants of the Prince of Darkness. But true demons are beings of spirit, fallen angels older than the world itself, the sworn enemies of God whose only desire is to entice His children into damnation. They may take many forms, even the most comely, though they are always deformed by some hidden mark; they may speak with seemingly divine wisdom or eloquence, but their words seek only to deceive. Their true form is horrid, with cloven hooves and leathery wings, and only a weapon wielded by a man of true faith may harm them. The power of these demons is beyond measure, for they once masqueraded as the gods of the ancient world, and they can send plague or famine or sudden death in the night. Only the blessings of God can guard a man against them.

The Devil thinks himself the lord of this world, and there are many – witting and unwitting – who would seek to make him so. The least of these, though the common folk of Christendom are much persuaded otherwise, are the Jews and Saracens. Yes, they have refused our Savior’s grace; and yes, this is a terrible sin, to which they have been seduced by Satan; but they are the Devil’s dupes, not his servants, and even in their blindness they possess much wisdom in the battle against demons. Much worse are the heathens of the Wendish lands, who worship and sacrifice to the Devil all unwitting, for he and his demons have been their gods from time immemorial. And worst of all are the countless cults that flourish from London to Damascus: men and women who freely choose to worship the Devil and his minions, who gather in secret to pray to him by a thousand secret names, who work his evil will by murder and poison and conspiracy. Not all heresies conceal such depth of depravity; many are simply errors of judgment, promoted by false teachers. But some are a veil for the workings of the Devil himself.

And that is why the Church of God has such great need of you: the Inquisition. You are a new thing, created just a few months ago by the Holy Father’s bull, Ad Abolendam. Satan has prospered his work through heresy and cults, because Christendom’s justice is in the hands of barons and bishops, weak and corrupt and ignorant men who do not understand the darkness with which they contend. They put their faith in superstition and not in evidence, and are swifter to enjoin bloodshed than repentance. But you will be different: men of justice, not of blood, bearing the powers of a papal legate to command assistance and assent, and armed with all the secret knowledge of the Church to distinguish devilry from mere mendacity. With the breastplate of righteousness, and the shield of faith, and the sword of the Spirit for the right hand and the left, God will deliver you unto the way of truth: and all the demons of Hell shall tremble at your approach.

Such, at least, is my prayer for you. And you will have need of prayers, where you are going. The darkness has swallowed greater men than you whole. I fear in my heart that the same fate awaits us all.


* * *



Venator Coram Domino

Erat robustus venator coram Domino. Ob hoc exivit proverbium: Quasi Nemrod robustus venator coram Domino.
(He was a mighty hunter before the Lord; wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord.)

Genesis 10


* * *

MOTHER ELYSANDE

Yes, I know Alberic de Cerami. Insofar as it is possible to know him. Better, in any case, then I suppose he knows himself. He is the sort of man of whom this new Inquisition was created to make use. I doubt that he will find his place within it comfortable, though. I don’t know that Alberic has ever felt comfortable anywhere.

He was born in Palermo. In the street. The story is that his mother was a whore. Simon of Taranto had knowledge of her – this was the bastard of Duke Roger of Apulia – and left her a dagger as a keepsake. In any case, Alberic grows up in the Palermo street, speaking native Greek and Arabic along with Sicilian and Norman. When his mother died, the Benedictines took him in as an act of charity, and taught him to read and write. It didn’t take. At eight, he ran away and fell in with a travelling qadi, and found his way to Taranto, where he produced the dagger as proof of his parentage.

To the surprise of all, Simon recognized him, but did not legitimize him. Maybe, being himself a bastard, Simon had a soft spot for others. Alberic spent years training for knighthood, learning horsemanship and music and war. But Simon died when Alberic was sixteen, and to avoid any challenge to his title, the new duke had Alberic exiled to a Cistercian monastery in Burgundy: safely out of the way.

It was shortly after that that I first met him, at a conclave when we were both novices. He was angry and confused; he had lived four different lives before he was twenty. But in the Abbey, he found a place where no one judged him on his birth or his wealth, or on aught but what he was. And so Alberic applied himself one more time: learned Latin and Greek, studied the classics, and learned to think – really to think, in that deliberate and rigorous way possible only for the truly educated. He was a prior before he was twenty-five, and the Cistercians sent him to study canon law in Bologna.

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It was there, I think, that Alberic really found a reason to devote himself to the Church. He already believed in God – he had found his faith with the Cistercians, grappling with the course that his life had taken – but he loves the Church because he loves the law, because he wants to believe in a world where reason and justice count for more than brute force. That’s what he told me, anyway; he wrote every month. He still does.

I think that love of justice was what caught the eye of the Bishop of Utrecht. He needed an envoy, a man who would find facts for his courts and represent him in legal proceedings. The Cistercians gave Alberic permission to enter the bishop’s service, and he spent the next several years in the swamps of the Low Countries. They say he uncovered a vast conspiracy to breach the dikes and flood hundreds of leagues of coastland: a mass sacrifice to unleash Leviathan. Alberic told me once that the story wasn’t quite right: the truth was less dramatic but more awful. In any event, the trial made Alberic’s reputation: the Cistercian bloodhound of heresy, God’s white dog. And it changed Alberic, too: it made him quieter, more watchful, more haggard.

He spent the next fifteen years on the move. He investigated a series of murders for the Prince of Toulouse, and was almost excommunicated himself when he found that they were the work of a rabid werewolf instead of a Cathar cult. He discovered a village of pagan faerie-worshippers in the English fens, and survived weeks of torture before he escaped. He hunted the restless spirit of an ancient Roman gladiator across Spain, from Christian Barcelona to Muslim Cordoba, and finally managed to exorcise it with the help of a Sufi holy man. He received a mandate from the Archbishop of Magdeburg to travel with German crusaders deep into the forests of the Wends, investigating rumors of devilry. He never told me of what he found, but he ordered the crusaders to burn an entire village to the ground: the only time I have ever known Alberic to command such a thing. And a few years ago, I know that even the Archbishop of Nazareth asked him to come to the Kingdom of Jerusalem to assess the veracity of a purported prophet who was roaming the countryside. Instead, he ended up fleeing the Holy Land after trying to indict the archbishop for necromancy.

Alberic is – not the easiest man to know. He can be arrogant, self-involved, even cynical. He has never truly known a home, and so he is not driven by the same desires as other men. He has lived his adult life on the road, and he writes with exaltation of the joy of new sights and sounds, new horizons. In one sense, he seems entirely fearless, for danger has no effect upon him; but he has seen horrors of which he does not speak to me, and he cries out in his sleep – so his friends say, I mean. I think the greatest reward of travel, for Alberic, is that it feeds his love of knowledge; he is always on the move, learning new things, acquiring new skills and habits, becoming fluent in new languages – he must speak at least a dozen by now, for he has an astonishing facility with tongues. Perhaps his greatest virtue, though it has also earned him many enemies, is that he is truly no respecter of persons: he grew up in poverty with Jews and Arabs and Greeks as his neighbors, and he travels now with rich and poor, Christian and Mohammedan, and treats all alike. I have never known a man quite so open-minded in his approach, and it is this which has won him the loyalty of those who share his road.

Alberic once told me that men who do not know the Devil seek him everywhere; men who do know him understand that there is no need to seek him, since he is ever seeking us. When the Pope issued his bull, Alberic was one of the first men the Holy Father asked to serve as a legate, and I truly thought that Alberic might refuse: though the princes of the Church have long found him invaluable, Alberic has had little love for them in return. In the end, though, he accepted: and when last he wrote, he and his strange circle of friends were riding north from Rome, making for Languedoc before the passes over the Alps close for the winter. That is where you will find him now – and God go with him.
Last edited by Reverend Norv on Sat Mar 16, 2019 12:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.

For really, I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live as the greatest he. And therefore truly, Sir, I think it's clear that every man that is to live under a Government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that Government. And I do think that the poorest man in England is not at all bound in a strict sense to that Government that he hath not had a voice to put himself under.
Col. Thomas Rainsborough, Putney Debates, 1647

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Reverend Norv
Minister
 
Posts: 2369
Founded: Jun 20, 2014
New York Times Democracy

Postby Reverend Norv » Mon Mar 11, 2019 8:42 am

THE RULES, AND GENERAL OBSERVATIONS


The OOC

  • If you are involved in this RP, then this is an open OOC. Feel free to discuss anything and everything, whether it has to do with the story or not.

  • This RP is not set in “the Middle Ages.” It is set in 1184. While I’ll accept some poetic license in deviating from historical accuracy, I expect you to know the rules before you break them. So you will need to do some research of your own. But I can also guarantee you that if you have any historical questions, I will find the answers for you. Just post your question to the OOC, and I will add it – and the answer – to the historical FAQs below.

  • This is an adventure-horror RP set in the twelfth century: a time of rampant superstition, religious hatred, and intolerance. In-character, there’s going to be a fair amount of disturbing material, and a lot of material that people will find insulting – the 1180s were not a golden age of tolerance. Remember that this is storytelling, and that IC events do not represent the feelings of OOC players. But also be aware that my tolerance for OOC rudeness falls in inverse proportion to the level of IC rudeness. If your character is fantasizing about burning Jews at the stake, you had better be an icon of patience and tolerance here in the OOC.

  • I understand that people have scheduling issues. I have them myself. This will move slowly sometimes, and rapidly at other times. The key is that if you drop off the map for a few days, post to the OOC first. And try to keep the OOC lively even if the IC is moving slowly; that way, we will all remain invested and ready to jump back into the action when peoples’ schedules free up.

The Roleplay

  • So at least one of you is still wondering what the hell this is. The answer: this is an adventure-horror RP set in the 1180s. It focuses on the entourage of Alberic de Cerami, a Cistercian monk who, as a papal legate tasked with investigating heresy, is one of the first members of what would much later become the Inquisition. A broad-minded man, he has assembled a team of various religions and ethnicities, each of whom has some useful skill: great scholarly knowledge, the ability to serve as a guide, experience with the supernatural, or skill in battle. Our story is concerned with their efforts to unravel a vast and devilish conspiracy.

  • The twist for this setting is that the supernatural is real – but only insofar as people at the time actually believed in it. This is what I like to call an anthropologist’s fantasy story: the world is full of devils and monsters, but none of the characters should be surprised by this, because they all believed that the folklore about devils and monsters was true anyway. In this reality, the only difference is that they are right. The one key exception to this rule is defamatory folklore about Jews and Muslims: even in this story, the blood libel is still just libel.

  • All players will take the role of members of Alberic’s entourage. Characters will need to have some preexisting connection with Alberic that convinced them to travel with him. I will control all major NPCs, and I will unravel the central mystery piece by piece, dropping clues necessary for you to move on. Your characters, however, will have to piece together the conspiracy on their own; I will not be railroading you, so you’ll need to figure out the next step from the information I provide.

  • All characters will have preexisting relationships as members of the same travelling group. Part of the purpose of this OOC is to flesh out those relationships before the RP starts.

  • As mentioned, this is a horror story set in a period that was pretty horrible to start with. There will be cursing, gore, religious bigotry, and various forms of perversion. But this is also NationStates, and the PG-13 rule applies. We have twelve-year-olds on these forums, guys. Don’t bring the mods down on me. Moreover, rules of good taste apply too. Don’t turn this into your chance to write torture-porn or rant about Muslim invaders. That’s not the point. So this is a writing challenge, you see? Imply without spelling out; show don’t tell.

  • Finally, have fun. As bleak as this setting might be, it is also full of things that are just plain weird. A realistic approach requires us to recognize the unintentional humor of medieval shenanigans. In short: if it doesn’t violate these rules, and it’s fun for you, then do it. It is that simple.

The Commandments

  • We always do the stuff about me being OP, and my authoritaaah, and courtesy and self-control, and so on. I’m going to assume that if I let you in the door, you know all of this already. Don’t disappoint me.

  • Keep it PG-13, or put the heavy stuff in clearly marked spoilers. Yes, this is a dark story, involving human depravity in a sweeping variety of forms. But there are twelve-year-olds on this forum. Bear that in mind.

  • Read the lore in the first post and keep an eye on the glossary below. Seriously, it will save you a lot of time. If you have a question about the 1180s or medieval superstition, then begin by Wikipedia-ing it. If that fails, then post your question here in the OOC. I will see it, and put the answer in the FAQs below. If it’s a really minor thing, just go ahead and make it up. I’ll let you know if there’s an issue.

  • The plot for this story will be deeply shaped by player actions, but it will also deeply shape the options that are available to the players. Don’t wander off, create your own NPCs, and start telling your own subplots tangential to the main story. Trust me: every single PC has a vital role to play in this tale. I will provide subplots aplenty for every single PC. Stick with me, people.

  • Post whenever you can. I write long posts. I recognize that this is not always possible for everyone. If all you can manage is a ten-minute, two-paragraph post, then give me that. If the IC action is stalling, or I go MIA for a few days, start bantering conversations with your partner – bounce posts back and forth, a few sentences apiece. Don’t let the need for quality paralyze you: quality and length are not the same thing. Write what you have time to write. Unwind and have fun!
Last edited by Reverend Norv on Mon Mar 11, 2019 9:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

For really, I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live as the greatest he. And therefore truly, Sir, I think it's clear that every man that is to live under a Government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that Government. And I do think that the poorest man in England is not at all bound in a strict sense to that Government that he hath not had a voice to put himself under.
Col. Thomas Rainsborough, Putney Debates, 1647

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Reverend Norv
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Postby Reverend Norv » Mon Mar 11, 2019 8:43 am

DRAMATIS PERSONAE


Canes Dei

  • ALBERIC de Cerami: Papal legate and inquisitor. Bastard son of the Siculo-Norman aristocracy, raised in poverty in Palermo. Briefly recognized and trained for knighthood before being banished to Cistercian monastery. Expert in canon law and one of the most experienced investigators of witchcraft and heresy in the Roman Church. Notable for his open-mindedness toward other faiths.

  • BARTAUTAS the Balt: Born deep in the Wendish forests and taken as a thrall by the Danes when he was still a young child, he escaped and made his way to Germany. Accompanied Alberic de Cerami as a guide on an expedition deep into the forests of his birth, and there witnessed an unspeakable evil that provoked his fragile conversion to Christianity. A young man torn between God and the paganism of his ancestors, to whom the demons of the ancient world still whisper.

  • CONSTANTINOS of Alexandria: Common-born native of Constantinople, and veteran of the Crusader-Byzantine invasion of Egypt, during which he entered an ancient tomb and was possessed by a demon, awakening with a fear of Jews, frogs, locusts, and other strange things. After exorcism in Jerusalem, wandered Europe as an anti-Semitic preacher before encountering Alberic in Magdeburg and accompanying him on crusade into the Wendish lands. Subsequently lived as a wandering hermit until Alberic asked him to join his work once again.

  • ELOVANAT Izevel: A young Jewish woman of Brittany, she disguised her faith and sex in order to access education in a monastery and hone her incredible gift with languages. The daughter of a wide-traveling merchant, she was forced into prostitution in Jerusalem after the death of her father at the hands of a mob, and her polyglot past and silver tongue proved essential to effecting the escape of Alberic de Cerami from that kingdom. She has traveled with him ever since.

  • GEBRAEL bar-Ewan: An aged Maronite scholar and physician from the mountains of the Lebanon, acquainted with all the medical wisdom of the Muslim and Christian worlds, who has held teaching positions from Paris to Baghdad. He encountered Alberic de Cerami two years ago in Nazareth, and was swept into the very heart of the monk's convoluted investigations there. He has since stuck close by Alberic's side, fearful of the demons that he now knows to lurk in the world's shadows.

  • GEOFFREY de Bourgogne: Son of the highest ranks of the Burgundian aristocracy, and a young Cistercian novice destined for the episcopate. After correctly diagnosing a case of demonic possession, he was assigned as novice to Alberic de Cerami, in whose service his silver tongue and courtly manners have been invaluable.

  • GIOVANNI "Bianchi": A tough Genoese mercenary, common-born and more than a few years past the strength of his youth, but still a deadly shot with his crossbow. A veteran of the Second Crusade and a moderately successful merchant, he now travels with Alberic de Cerami in the hopes that so doing can redeem his soul from the violence and greed of his past.

  • LODEWIJK of Utrecht: Son of the minor Frisian nobility, after serving as a Ghibelline he turned to the service of God as a Knight Hospitaller. Mighty in battle and skilled with medicine, stoic and thoughtful, he has known Alberic de Cerami for fifteen years and is the legate's oldest friend among the travelers.

  • REBECCA of Naples: A young Jewish merchant, hard-drinking and amiable and polyglot, with an extraordinary gift for finance: she was handling half her father's business before she was twenty-five. Though comfortable in most noble courts, she has enemies in Rome, and Alberic de Cerami recently saved her from arrest in that city. He then asked her to bring her travel experience and expertise with gold to his group of companions.


Non-Player Characters
Last edited by Reverend Norv on Tue Mar 19, 2019 5:25 am, edited 5 times in total.

For really, I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live as the greatest he. And therefore truly, Sir, I think it's clear that every man that is to live under a Government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that Government. And I do think that the poorest man in England is not at all bound in a strict sense to that Government that he hath not had a voice to put himself under.
Col. Thomas Rainsborough, Putney Debates, 1647

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Postby Reverend Norv » Mon Mar 11, 2019 8:43 am

GLOSSARY

For really, I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live as the greatest he. And therefore truly, Sir, I think it's clear that every man that is to live under a Government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that Government. And I do think that the poorest man in England is not at all bound in a strict sense to that Government that he hath not had a voice to put himself under.
Col. Thomas Rainsborough, Putney Debates, 1647

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Postby Reverend Norv » Mon Mar 11, 2019 8:43 am

ROLES AND APPLICATION


Character Creation

Due to the nature of the storytelling entailed by this RP, I will be more involved with the character creation process than would ordinarily be expected.

First, I am offering certain roles. These are characters types with special features that make them especially important to the plot. Even if you choose to have your character fill a role, you are still free to craft that character however you please, provided that the character includes the role’s required traits. If you choose to have your character fill a role, please make sure that you do in fact have the time to RP consistently, since characters with roles have distinctive plot arcs that are important to the larger narrative and require consistent player activity. Characters are not required to fill a role.

Second, even if your characters do not fill a role, I will consult with you closely in the character-creation process, and I may even ask you to make modifications. This is to ensure that your characters are fully integrated into the larger medieval setting, with believable ties to Alberic de Cerami.

Third, once your applications are accepted, I will ask you to start talking to other accepted players. Together, you will develop preexisting relationships between your characters that reflect the fact that they are all fellow members of a tight-knit group of fellow travelers. By deciding what each PC thinks of the other PCs before the action starts, we can make our storytelling deeper and more realistic.

Roles

  • The Scholar: This character is an expert on the occult, having extensively studied the classical authors, the Church Fathers, Arabic manuscripts, the Talmud, or all of the above. He/she is likely to speak numerous languages, and will be essential to provide information on the various creatures that the team will face. I will TG this player relevant lore when necessary, for him/her to share.

  • The Muscle: This character may not have much direct experience of the supernatural, but is a skilled killer with substantial combat experience. A higher level of familiarity with medieval weapons and warfare will be expected for this player. Due to the social conditions of the 1180s, this character will be male, unless you can think of a very good explanation otherwise.

  • The Survivor: This character was, at some point prior to the RP, possessed by a demon and successfully exorcised. He/she remains unusually sensitive to the presence of spirits and dangerously susceptible to demonic possession. This character will have an essential role in the plot, and only one will be accepted. TAKEN

  • The Guide: This character has extensive experience with a particular form of travel: sailing, moving through swamps, mountain navigation, etc. The player should have some familiarity with the tricks of the trade involved in that particular form of travel. The character will act as a guide in relevant terrain, and will often be the first to discover plot-relevant clues.

  • The Outcast: This character is either Muslim or Jewish. Alberic de Cerami has travelled extensively in Sicily, Spain, and the Holy Land; if this character is Muslim, the two likely met in one of those places. The player should bring some familiarity with the character’s religious background, and should be prepared for the character frequently to be a locus of conflict and controversy.

  • The Dragon: This character is Alberic de Cerami’s second-in-command. He/she is almost certainly a member of the clergy, a priest or monk or nun, with some substantial investigative experience of his/her own. This character also has a longer-standing relationship with Alberic than many others. This player should be prepared to act as co-OP in the event that the party ever splits into smaller groups. Only one such character will be accepted. TAKEN


The Application

Code: Select all
[b]Role, If Any:[/b]

[hr][/hr]

[b]Name:[/b]

[b]Age:[/b]

[b]Gender:[/b]

[b]Appearance:[/b]

[hr][/hr]

[b]Personality:[/b]

[b]Fears:[/b]

[b]Hobbies:[/b]

[b]Skills:[/b]

[b]Weaknesses:[/b]

[hr][/hr]

[b]Birthplace:[/b]

[b]Nationality:[/b]

[b]Ethnicity:[/b]

[b]Class/Caste:[/b]

[b]Sexuality:[/b]

[b]Religion:[/b]

[hr][/hr]

[b]Education (if any):[/b]

[b]Biography:[/b]
Last edited by Reverend Norv on Tue Mar 19, 2019 5:13 am, edited 3 times in total.

For really, I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live as the greatest he. And therefore truly, Sir, I think it's clear that every man that is to live under a Government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that Government. And I do think that the poorest man in England is not at all bound in a strict sense to that Government that he hath not had a voice to put himself under.
Col. Thomas Rainsborough, Putney Debates, 1647

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Postby Reverend Norv » Mon Mar 11, 2019 8:44 am

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

For really, I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live as the greatest he. And therefore truly, Sir, I think it's clear that every man that is to live under a Government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that Government. And I do think that the poorest man in England is not at all bound in a strict sense to that Government that he hath not had a voice to put himself under.
Col. Thomas Rainsborough, Putney Debates, 1647

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Cylarn
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Postby Cylarn » Mon Mar 11, 2019 9:12 am

Of course, my sword is yours milord. As for potential roles, I am torn in a triple struggle between the Dragon, Survivor, and Muscle.

I will hopefully commence my app tonight.
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Lazarian
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Postby Lazarian » Mon Mar 11, 2019 9:19 am

This looks great, definitely consider me in. I'll probably have an app in by nightfall, give or take. Split between Scholar and Muscle right now.
ZEhKaGJuTWdjR1Z2Y0d4bElHRnlaU0JrYVhObmRYTjBhVzVuSUdGdVpDQnBJR2h2Y0dVZ2RHaGxlU0JuWlhRZ2JIbHVZMmhsWkNBN0tR

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Constaniana
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Postby Constaniana » Mon Mar 11, 2019 10:46 am

Fortunately I am on spring break this week and my professors were merciful enough to not give any homework, so I should be able to get an application up faster than my usual geological pace. I'm thinking of choosing the guide for the sake of writing a less martial character than I usually do, although I don't have much experience with the travel modes the OP mentions.
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Agritum wrote:I want to marry you now, my British damsel.
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I have the oddest of feelings this is my fault somehow.
Nightkill the Emperor wrote:I just realised how bizarre Const's existence is.
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Reverend Norv
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Postby Reverend Norv » Mon Mar 11, 2019 10:50 am

Constaniana wrote:Fortunately I am on spring break this week and my professors were merciful enough to not give any homework, so I should be able to get an application up faster than my usual geological pace. I'm thinking of choosing the guide for the sake of writing a less martial character than I usually do, although I don't have much experience with the travel modes the OP mentions.


That's fine; don't worry about it. Agritum is eventually likely to apply as a sailor-type guide, so I'd think about someone with experience in mountains or marshes. Looking forward to having you!

For really, I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live as the greatest he. And therefore truly, Sir, I think it's clear that every man that is to live under a Government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that Government. And I do think that the poorest man in England is not at all bound in a strict sense to that Government that he hath not had a voice to put himself under.
Col. Thomas Rainsborough, Putney Debates, 1647

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Postby Reverend Norv » Mon Mar 11, 2019 10:51 am

Cylarn wrote:Of course, my sword is yours milord. As for potential roles, I am torn in a triple struggle between the Dragon, Survivor, and Muscle.

I will hopefully commence my app tonight.


Dragon's yours if you want it. I'd stay away from the survivor, though, if you're confident in your idea from Discord. Lodewijk wouldn't work as well for that purpose, plot-wise.

For really, I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live as the greatest he. And therefore truly, Sir, I think it's clear that every man that is to live under a Government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that Government. And I do think that the poorest man in England is not at all bound in a strict sense to that Government that he hath not had a voice to put himself under.
Col. Thomas Rainsborough, Putney Debates, 1647

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Postby Reverend Norv » Mon Mar 11, 2019 10:51 am

Lazarian wrote:This looks great, definitely consider me in. I'll probably have an app in by nightfall, give or take. Split between Scholar and Muscle right now.


Looking forward to reading it!

For really, I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live as the greatest he. And therefore truly, Sir, I think it's clear that every man that is to live under a Government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that Government. And I do think that the poorest man in England is not at all bound in a strict sense to that Government that he hath not had a voice to put himself under.
Col. Thomas Rainsborough, Putney Debates, 1647

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Constaniana
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Postby Constaniana » Mon Mar 11, 2019 11:10 am

Reverend Norv wrote:
Constaniana wrote:Fortunately I am on spring break this week and my professors were merciful enough to not give any homework, so I should be able to get an application up faster than my usual geological pace. I'm thinking of choosing the guide for the sake of writing a less martial character than I usually do, although I don't have much experience with the travel modes the OP mentions.


That's fine; don't worry about it. Agritum is eventually likely to apply as a sailor-type guide, so I'd think about someone with experience in mountains or marshes. Looking forward to having you!

I had an idea of my character being an English lad who helped Alberic escape the faerie worshipers and get across the moorland years ago.
Joe Biden 2020; make aviators great again.
Elementals 3 has arrived!
Agritum wrote:I want to marry you now, my British damsel.
Nightkill the Emperor wrote:You know, I didn't expect you to be the most psychopathic person here.

I have the oddest of feelings this is my fault somehow.
Nightkill the Emperor wrote:I just realised how bizarre Const's existence is.
Cerillium wrote:Const is right.
Zarkenis Ultima wrote:You just cornered a scary indian man with a sword-of-brick-shattering.

Have a cookie.
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Reverend Norv
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Postby Reverend Norv » Mon Mar 11, 2019 11:14 am

Constaniana wrote:
Reverend Norv wrote:
That's fine; don't worry about it. Agritum is eventually likely to apply as a sailor-type guide, so I'd think about someone with experience in mountains or marshes. Looking forward to having you!

I had an idea of my character being an English lad who helped Alberic escape the faerie worshipers and get across the moorland years ago.


Fens and bogs and moorlands, then. That sounds like a great idea! Looking forward to seeing it.

For really, I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live as the greatest he. And therefore truly, Sir, I think it's clear that every man that is to live under a Government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that Government. And I do think that the poorest man in England is not at all bound in a strict sense to that Government that he hath not had a voice to put himself under.
Col. Thomas Rainsborough, Putney Debates, 1647

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Cylarn
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Postby Cylarn » Mon Mar 11, 2019 12:20 pm

Reverend Norv wrote:
Cylarn wrote:Of course, my sword is yours milord. As for potential roles, I am torn in a triple struggle between the Dragon, Survivor, and Muscle.

I will hopefully commence my app tonight.


Dragon's yours if you want it. I'd stay away from the survivor, though, if you're confident in your idea from Discord. Lodewijk wouldn't work as well for that purpose, plot-wise.


Truth be told, my confidence in writing a victim of demonic possession is quite lacking; I will seize the Dragon, however.
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Postby Remnants of Exilvania » Mon Mar 11, 2019 2:00 pm

Time to tag.
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Postby Great Confederacy of Commonwealth States » Mon Mar 11, 2019 3:20 pm

Role, If Any: Survivor




Name: “You’re looking for Constantinos of Alexandria?” The tavern keeper’s wife asks, repeating the name the messenger just told her.

Age: “Middle aged man, about 35 winters? Yeah, I know him” She says, looking at the messenger with a suspicious gaze.

Gender: “That man, over there” she tells the messenger, nodding her head sideways to a corner of the tavern. There, on his own at a table for six, sits a man with a thousand yard stare.

Appearance: The man looks forlorn. Even though the tavern is warmed by a large fire, he wears a thick woollen hood over his head. His dark eyes stare plainly into the distance, as if looking through a window that only he can see. It is hard to see him even breathing under the heavy cloak. His hair is unkempt, his beard looks like it has only been partially shaven. He generally looks uncared for. Every now and again, a loud sound seems to jerk him back into the real world. He scratches his neck a lot. His hands are covered in wraps, leaving only the finger sticking out. His finger nails are yellowish and long, dirtied as if he had been digging through the mud. His lips are chapped and broken, with hints of dried-up blood on them. The messenger swallows, and then approaches him.




Personality: “You are Constantinos?” the messenger asks. The man looks up, his brown, watery eyes piercing those of the messenger. There is a moment of silence, as if Constantinos is trying to look through him. Then, a curt nod, followed by Greek-accented French. “Yes, that is me”. Afterwards, he refuses to make eye contact with the messenger, who takes a seat opposite him. Whenever Constantinos speaks, he speaks with his mouth covered, making all his words mumbled. He speaks in uncertain terms, and has an air over overall nervousness surrounding him. He scratches his neck, the back of his hands, and sometimes starts biting his nails, only to quickly stop once he notices. He is passive in conversation, just listening and answering with curt nods whenever asked if he understands.

Fears: “Are you a Jew?” The messenger is taken aback by this question. Suddenly, the eyes of the hermit Constantinos seem to be on fire, as if trying to spot a trace of Jewishness in his counterpart. The messenger quickly shakes his head, which seems to relax Constaninos back into his jittery state. The messenger suddenly remembers the strange set of instructions he received. Make no mention of Jews. No mention of frogs or locusts, or bugs of any kind. No mentions of his eldest brother or his son, no mention of hail. And a whole lot of other instructions the messenger had forgotten. A silence falls over the conversation. “Blasted wind outside, don’t you agree?” the messenger says, trying to see if he can lighten the mood.

Hobbies: “And moses stretched forth his rod over the land of Egypt, and the Lord brough an east wind upon the land all that day, and…” Constantinos began, before suddenly stopping. Again, his thousand mile stare pierced the walls, before looking straight into the eyes of the messenger with a melancholy smile. “Yes, yes, quite. Quite windy indeed…”

Skills: The Hermit Constantinos had an incredible command of scripture, able to cite it at a moment’s notice no matter the context. He also speaks and writes Latin, Greek and Hebrew, the messenger knew. That’s why the message he was to deliver was not oral, as was regular, but in writing. He had the document under his own cloak, ready to hand over when the hermit proved who he was.

Weaknesses: The messenger was unsure, though, why anyone would send a message to this pitiful man sitting in front of him. Constantinos looked more like a scared rabbit than anything else. There was no charisma to the hermit, and a creepy atmosphere hung wherever he was. He would make a man feel uneasy by his mere presence. His figure also looked like it could be snapped in two by a strong gust of wind, even more feeble than many of the wretched peasants that inhabited this region of Bavaria.




Birthplace: “I’m going to have to ask you a few questions, just to see if you are who you say you are” The instructions were clear, otherwise he would not receive his full pay, but he would rather just want to drop the message off and be done with it. “Where were you born?”

“Constantinople” the hermit answered, more as if talking to himself than anyone else.

Nationality: “Are you a citizen?”

“I am a Roman”

Ethnicity: “Your father?”

“Also a Roman”

Class/Caste: “Do you have any titles or land or wealth?”

The hermit just shook his head.

Sexuality:

Religion: “Do… Do you believe in the one true God?” This question was posed differently by the man who had given him his assignment, but he could not bring himself to ask such a heretical question.

“Yes… Yes…” Constantinos asked, rather as if he was admitting some grave fault.




Education: “Where did you receive your theological education?” The messenger knew this was a trick question. There was only one right answer, and frauds often failed here because they made something up about Alexandria. This was the way to truly pick out the real one from the fakes.

“Nowhere” the hermit answered, sending a shiver down the spine of the messenger. He took the scroll from the inside of his cloak and handed it over to the hermit.

“Alberic sends his regards”

Biography: Constaninos was born in Constantinople, the son of a simple swine-herd and his wife. The man had received a small plot of land in loan from his feudal lord, who extracted taxes from him with a heavy hand. The family earned enough to subsist, if only because they managed to defraud the feudal lord of some of his rightful dues just to feed themselves. Life was harsh, but Constaninos managed to stay live, which was not what he could say about a lot of his siblings. Ten eventually lived into adulthood. He married as soon as he became of age, wedding Alexia as his parents had arranged. The two had a son soon after.

Just after the signs of pregnancy became visible on Alexia, however, Constantinos was called upon to reinforce the levies of the emperor himself. The Empire supported the king of Jerusalem in his ventures in Egypt, and promised to supply troops and materials for the war against the heathen Saracens. Promised a free road into heaven upon succeeding on this holy crusade. Being levied, it was not as if Constantinos had a choice. He bade farewell to his family and marched off with the army, hardly trained in the use of the spear that was shoved into his hands. He saw a lot of the world marching to Jerusalem, and partook in many a sin. He drank, he ate, he whored. His wife would never know, and he needed to join his brothers in the carnal pleasures of life. After all, he would never want to be an outcast. They looted and plundered as well, imagining themselves as barons and counts in their own right when they returned home.

The Egyptian crusade was a rude awakening. The first battle at al-Babein was a massacre. Having marched through the scorching desert for weeks, the army was finally set upon by the Saracen forces. Thirsty and tired, the army was no match. The peasant levies were slaughtered, the survivors sent into the desert to die. Constantinos, having survived the battle, walked through the wild lands of Egypt for weeks, if not months. He drank dirty water that was left out for the oxen and the camels, scrounged for food and had to subsist of the bare minimum. The local Muslim population gave alms, as was required by their faith, but they were quick to send this Greek away if he stayed too long. He did not speak Arabic, and they did not speak Greek, and he could not read or write a thing.

After months of walking, scrounging, following the course of the river Nile, Constantinos came upon a shadowy valley, filled with ancient monuments of a long-gone past. A sandstorm rolled over the desert, and Constantinos entered one of the uncovered entrances in search for shelter. There, he fell asleep. When he awoke, he was in Jerusalem, in the cold halls of a church. The scent of mirre hung over him like a carpet. What he found were a hundred lit candles, and when he shouted for help, a nun came to greet him. He was treated with enormous caution, eventually even receiving an audience with the patriarch of Jerusalem, who explained that he had been found possessed in Alexandria, from where he had been transported to Jerusalem for an exorcism. They were about to transport him to Rome when he woke up. In the coming days, he would find himself a changed man. He would hear whispers in the night. Shadows moving about him. Most of all, he had grown fearful of locusts and frogs, of hail and bugs and disease. His body, he found, was covered in the text of Exodus, carved in him with a crude knife in the three languages of the bible: Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, all of which he could now understand. The latter would give him no comfort, though, for he had grown hateful of Jews beyond even the most ardent Christian. Even the sea gave him discomfort, so he left for Constantinople on foot.

When he arrived there, two years after having set off, he found his wife destitute. Their land had grown barren, and their son had died a year after Constantinos had left. When he returned, his wife didn’t want to see him anymore, and he had changed so radically that she didn’t recognise him. Alexia cast him out, and Contantinos would spend the next fifteen years of his life wandering the world as a hermit. In the beginning he had no purpose, wandering around Europe looking for food and shelter. However, as he went on, he found a goal in the preaching of hate against Jews. Dressed as a priest, he wandered around the continent, decrying the crimes of the Jews against Jesus and calling for their expulsion, or else, their removal by other means. He was preaching in Magdenburg when he finally met a challenger. A true priest, by the name of Alberic. Like Christ, he invited Constantinos into his home and shared with him food and a bed. Alberic explained how Jesus had been a Jew, and how the words of the Hebrews were also directly in the Bible. Of course, Constantinos remained hesitant. However, the kindness of the man forced him to explain to Alberic what had happened to him. Alberic had known, of course, which was why he had invited him into his home. Alberic convinced him to join him for a time, as he was about to embark on a crusade against the Wends. Constantinos didn’t want to go on crusade ever again, but Alberic managed to convince him. What happened there would change them both, and it would leave Constantinos even more of a husk than he had been before. The two never really said goodbye. Constantinos just continued to travel around Europe, now as a beggar and a true hermit rather than as a preacher. Until a messenger got to him in a tavern in Bavaria.
The name's James. James Usari. Well, my name is not actually James Usari, so don't bother actually looking it up, but it'll do for now.

Lack of a real name means compensation through a real face. My debt is settled


Part-time Kebab tycoon in Glasgow.

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Reverend Norv
Minister
 
Posts: 2369
Founded: Jun 20, 2014
New York Times Democracy

Postby Reverend Norv » Mon Mar 11, 2019 3:41 pm

Oh, now this is just fantastic. The survivor - Constantinos - will be very relevant to the plot, so I do need to be confident that you'll be able to post regularly. But if that is so, then I will be thrilled to have you along for the ride - and to see whether I'm right about the nature of the demon that once possessed Constantinos, and to work out with you just what happened in those vast Wendish forests.

For really, I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live as the greatest he. And therefore truly, Sir, I think it's clear that every man that is to live under a Government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that Government. And I do think that the poorest man in England is not at all bound in a strict sense to that Government that he hath not had a voice to put himself under.
Col. Thomas Rainsborough, Putney Debates, 1647

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Great Confederacy of Commonwealth States
P2TM RP Mentor
 
Posts: 16526
Founded: Feb 20, 2012
Scandinavian Liberal Paradise

Postby Great Confederacy of Commonwealth States » Mon Mar 11, 2019 3:44 pm

Reverend Norv wrote:Oh, now this is just fantastic. The survivor - Constantinos - will be very relevant to the plot, so I do need to be confident that you'll be able to post regularly. But if that is so, then I will be thrilled to have you along for the ride - and to see whether I'm right about the nature of the demon that once possessed Constantinos, and to work out with you just what happened in those vast Wendish forests.

I will treat this as an obligation, and I will actually schedule time to write for this. I would hate to be the one to drag down the plot, so I will promise to post as often as is required.
The name's James. James Usari. Well, my name is not actually James Usari, so don't bother actually looking it up, but it'll do for now.

Lack of a real name means compensation through a real face. My debt is settled


Part-time Kebab tycoon in Glasgow.

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Reverend Norv
Minister
 
Posts: 2369
Founded: Jun 20, 2014
New York Times Democracy

Postby Reverend Norv » Mon Mar 11, 2019 3:46 pm

Great Confederacy of Commonwealth States wrote:
Reverend Norv wrote:Oh, now this is just fantastic. The survivor - Constantinos - will be very relevant to the plot, so I do need to be confident that you'll be able to post regularly. But if that is so, then I will be thrilled to have you along for the ride - and to see whether I'm right about the nature of the demon that once possessed Constantinos, and to work out with you just what happened in those vast Wendish forests.

I will treat this as an obligation, and I will actually schedule time to write for this. I would hate to be the one to drag down the plot, so I will promise to post as often as is required.


Perfect. Welcome to the RP! I'll write a blurb for Constantinos shortly.

For really, I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live as the greatest he. And therefore truly, Sir, I think it's clear that every man that is to live under a Government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that Government. And I do think that the poorest man in England is not at all bound in a strict sense to that Government that he hath not had a voice to put himself under.
Col. Thomas Rainsborough, Putney Debates, 1647

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Lunas Legion
Postmaster of the Fleet
 
Posts: 29037
Founded: Jan 21, 2013
Iron Fist Consumerists

Postby Lunas Legion » Mon Mar 11, 2019 5:37 pm

Well, I'm down for this, didn't notice the conversations on the Discord since I drop in and out irregularly. Not entirely sure what role I'll take, currently leaning towards either a disheartened veteran of the Outremer as muscle, or an Arab philosopher-mathematician who sort-of blends the role of scholar and outcast.
Last edited by William Slim Wed Dec 14 1970 10:35 pm, edited 35 times in total.

Confirmed member of Kylaris Loominarty Membership can be applied for here

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Reverend Norv
Minister
 
Posts: 2369
Founded: Jun 20, 2014
New York Times Democracy

Postby Reverend Norv » Mon Mar 11, 2019 5:51 pm

Lunas Legion wrote:Well, I'm down for this, didn't notice the conversations on the Discord since I drop in and out irregularly. Not entirely sure what role I'll take, currently leaning towards either a disheartened veteran of the Outremer as muscle, or an Arab philosopher-mathematician who sort-of blends the role of scholar and outcast.


Either of those would be grand. I look forward to seeing what you settle on!

For really, I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live as the greatest he. And therefore truly, Sir, I think it's clear that every man that is to live under a Government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that Government. And I do think that the poorest man in England is not at all bound in a strict sense to that Government that he hath not had a voice to put himself under.
Col. Thomas Rainsborough, Putney Debates, 1647

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Rudaslavia
Ambassador
 
Posts: 1630
Founded: Mar 28, 2014
Corporate Police State

Postby Rudaslavia » Mon Mar 11, 2019 7:26 pm

Hey now...
Friends call me "Rud."

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Rupudska
Postmaster of the Fleet
 
Posts: 20293
Founded: Sep 16, 2010
Left-Leaning College State

Postby Rupudska » Mon Mar 11, 2019 8:52 pm

Role, If Any: The Outcast (sorta)




Name: "Rebecca of Naples? You're looking for a Rebecca of Naples, yes?" the tavern's barkeep says.

Age: "Twenty-five years or so, drinks like five men combined? Aye, she's here," the barkeep says, nodding off in the distance.

Gender: "The Jewess is in the table in the back, surrounded by sailors. If you're here because someone needs her elsewhere, please hurry it up before she drinks me dry." Indeed, the table was full of sailors, drinking, eating, and making merry...

Appearance: ...with a Jewish woman of relatively high-class dress (though not excessively so, not that it was easy to tell at this distance or in such light) who would look somewhat out of place if she weren't trying to make merry twice as hard as the men. As the messenger approaches, it becomes apparent that her clothing is of good make yet very practical, and suitable for the warm weather of southern Italy. Even so, there is a dark blue cloak upon her chair, clearly wet from the storm outside. Her skin is clean, at least as clean as one who travels often can be, with the blush on her face the only real indication that she has been intoxicated at all. Her eyes are bright and full of both life and intelligence in equal measure, and they meet the messenger's not long after he starts to approach.




Personality: "Rebecca bat Yosef ben Hamon of Naples?" The woman stands up, her eyes boring through the messenger before looking him over - his clothing, his hands, his face, the dagger at his hip, the sack of messages he carries with him. She takes less than a second before resuming eye contact, but the messenger gets the distinct feeling the Jewish woman before him knows quite a bit more about him than one normally would after a simple glance. Her response is in Castilian, but with a barely-there accent of southern Italy. She smiles. "Yes, that's me." She waves the messenger over, using a mix of rapid-fire Neapolitan, hand motions, and simple pushing to get the sailor next to her to make room for the man. "Come, sit, one should not engage in important conversations with someone too much more or less sated with food or beer than oneself," she says, then calls for more food and beer for said messenger. Her words are quick, alternating between flowery, many-syllable words to rapid fire ones that even an infant could understand, though she strives to make her meanings ever clear. With nearly every word, her hands move as if to illustrate on an invisible painting. Nothing she does indicates nervousness, and she doesn't even slow down when Zeus sees fit to rudely interrupt her with a thunderbolt or two.

Fears: Casually, she leans up against the messenger. To an outside observer, it was nothing more than the flirtatious actions of a drunken woman, but the sensation of a hidden (and sizable) dagger pressing into his side made it clear exactly what Rebecca was doing. "You're not a Roman, are you? Not, not the Romans in Constantinopolis, I mean the Romans under the Pope Roman." Her eyes briefly lose their joyous spark as she asks this, instead becoming rather cold and boring. The messenger shakes his head in the negative, and this relaxes her. "Good, good. The guards of Rome seem quite intent on preventing any Jews from doing much business there. Even worse than Naples, if you can imagine."

This was a little odd, and the messenger raised an eyebrow at that. "Are you not from Naples yourself? Why do you seem to hold no love for your homeland?"

She takes another long draw of beer before answering. "Many large cities have similar problems - Narrow, dark quarters full of narrow-minded, dark people, some of whom would very much like to liberate you of your hard-earned possessions. Jew, Christian, or Mahometian, it makes no difference to them. It's worse at night, which is sadly the time when I am often returning home when in that city."

Hobbies: She took yet another drag of her beer. "It's not all bad in Napule, though. The tournaments are always a good watch, the horse races, the cockfights. If it's raining like this, I can always count on some foolish noble boy or merchant to arrive that I can defeat in chess, or Dama."

Skills: "It's ironic, is it not? These men who command armies fall rather easily in chess, or in another battlefield of mine - that of trade. Both worlds involve..." She took yet another sip. The messenger was amazed at how well this Jewess could put away alcohol with no apparent effect on her. "Not so much intelligence as understanding - how men think, how they will react to information you may or may not have. Bluffing helps, so does letting people underestimate you - one of the few lessons from my uncle I will openly say I value is to know whoever you're dealing with, or to know as many people who do as you can." That was not all she was capable of, of course. Her command of mathematics was, to put it simply, incredible. She spoke Castilian as easily as Neapolitan, Arabic, and Hebrew (the former of which was interchangeable with Italian to most), and Dutch almost as well - her English was less than ideal, but she could at least hold a conversation with the average city dweller in it. She could read and write Castilian, Neapolitan, Arabic, and Hebrew as well.

Weaknesses: The less said about her command of Latin, the better. While the messenger believed this woman to be quite capable in the art of the deal, he was rather unsure why Alberic was interested in her. Surely there were plenty of Christian merchants to choose from, male Christian merchants no less, and certainly many of them were no doubt more capable of defending themselves than the woman before him. Not that he doubted she could protect herself from a robber or two, but if what Alberic claimed lurked in the night was true...

Well, there were things even a heretic didn't deserve.

"I will have to ask you a few questions, of course - just to insure you truly are who you claim to be."

"Of course, of course," Rebecca said, finishing off her mug and swiftly waving for another, which she got by the time the messenger started asking his questions.



Birthplace: "Where were you born?"

"Not quite in Naples, but just to the north of it in a carriage in the dead of night."

Nationality: "Are you a citizen?"

"Of Naples? Yes. Of Sicily, as well, as long as Palermo dictates Neapolitan affairs."

Ethnicity: "But, you are not Sicilian."

"Per se. My father, his fathers, and their fathers all lived in and around Naples, and have almost as long as there has been a Naples to live in and around."

Class/Caste: "Do you hold any land?"

"In as much as a Jewish merchant can hold land in Naples, yes. Our wealth comes more from trade, and for that we need ships more than land."

Sexuality: The messenger didn't bother asking, but by the way Rebecca looked at both men and women in the tavern, it was anyone's guess.

Religion: "Are you a practicing Jew?"

Rebecca pauses mid-drink, as if in thought. The moment passes, and she takes another long swill. "Yes."




Education (if any): "How were you educated?"

At this, she smiles. "My father was my teacher, and the world my educator. From both, I learned nothing and everything I could need."

Biography: By the standards of the time, and considering her being both female and Jewish, life had been kind to Rebecca. She was born to well-off parents, in a (for the time) respected merchant family, in a (for the time) nation that was relatively tolerant of Jews and their doing business. She was smart, too - a fast learner, and learned languages with ease - her mother died in childbirth, and Yosef ben Hamon seemed fully intent on having her take up the merchant trade. He started her out as an assistant bookkeeper, and she took to mathematics faster than Yosef could teach it. Soon she replaced his regular bookkeeper, and from there she began to branch out as a merchant in her own right.

Her uncle, a banker living in Sicily, was killed when she was twelve. Not liking the man, she felt no great loss from it, but her father did - and that led him to pursue wider trade outside of his usual route from the Levant to the Kingdom of Sicily and back. And he brought Rebecca along with him - to England, to the lands of the Dutch and the Holy Roman Emperor, to the northern coasts of France and Iberia, and rarely even as far north as Sweden - though by the time he was bold enough for that, Rebecca had moved on to managing his affairs in the Mediterranean and southern Europe, ones that didn't require his attention, or ones that required a woman's touch.

She spent a lot of time with nobles. She learned she didn't like them - spendthrifts on the most absurd things in her mind, and almost sickeningly proud of how ready they were to rub their wealth in the noses of anyone high enough above the muck of common peasantry to smell it. She was skilled enough to hide this from most, but some of the smarter ones (or simply more antisemitic ones) were able to deduce it, and most that did decided they didn't like her either. Being Jewish, a woman, and a merchant, there wasn't much she could do but simply abscond from the area.

It was in such a situation, in Rome, that she first met Alberic. Somehow she had offended a minor noble, and he had just enough pull to get a few guards after Rebecca - to arrest, kill, who knew what, it wasn't important. What is important was that Alberic had managed to talk them down when they were about to capture her, enough that they stopped to explain. From there, he managed to talk those guards down enough to let her 'come to his residence' to 'await trial' under someone trusted by the Papacy. They fell for it, and he led her out of the city and south across the border.

She must have greatly impressed him with their discussions along the way, because barely a month later she was asked to join this entourage of his at the behest of the Pope. An odd thing to request, but he had apparently impressed her enough that she agreed.
Last edited by Rupudska on Mon Mar 18, 2019 6:33 pm, edited 10 times in total.
The Holy Roman Empire of Karlsland (MT/FanT & FT/FanT)
THE Strike Witches NationState
Best thread ever.|SPACE!
MT Factbook/FT Factbook|Embassy|Q&A
On Karlsland Witch Doctrine:
Hladgos wrote:Scantly clad women, more like tanks
seem to be blowing up everyones banks
with airstrikes from girls with wings to their knees
which show a bit more than just their panties

Questers wrote:
Rupudska wrote:So do you fight with AK-47s or something even more primitive? Since I doubt any economy could reasonably sustain itself that way.
Presumably they use advanced technology like STRIKE WITCHES

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Rudaslavia
Ambassador
 
Posts: 1630
Founded: Mar 28, 2014
Corporate Police State

Postby Rudaslavia » Mon Mar 11, 2019 9:53 pm

Assuming I will be allowed to take part, could I reserve the role of The Guide? I have a good idea in mind.
Friends call me "Rud."

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