A delicate matter (fall 1220)

Early in fall Antonius receives a letter, in Latin, from Father Ratzinger, indicating he has a problem in a very delicate and unusual matter, and he believes that your expertise would be of great assistance, if you would come at once to Mdina.

On September 25th anno domini 1220, after having being given directions to by masons working at what appeared to be the foundations of a structure, the messenger finally reached Antonius' laboratory. He pulled the flap of the large tent on the side, entered, and said with a clear voice:

"I am looking for Antonius, I have a message from father Ratzinger of Mdina."

The magus, who was working over a table on which were laid multiple flasks, a morter and pestle, as well as multiples weird ingredients, answered, while continuing to stir a strange oily conconction in a pot, said:

"Really ?" Answered Antonius, visibly curious about the message's content. He mumbled a few words and the stick, animated by the same circular motion as before, continued to stir the mixture, as if animated by a life of its own. The magus turned and face the newcomer, who was approaching to give him the message.

"I was told to only give it in person on...."

He stopped mid-sentence, visibly surprised and shocked by what he had just seen.

Antonius, snatched the letter from the messenger hand and then calmly walked to a table where a knife was and then, swiflty cut the enveloppe's seal. After quiclky reading it, he frowned, and left out worried sigh.

"Tell Father Ratzinger that I will come in a day's time.... and see that you are paid on your way out."

Antonius went back to his work, but suddently tent's interior felt darker to him.

Antonius will go see Ismael, who was tending to the animals that were left from the caravan, a few horses that were grazing on plants dried by the bright mediterranean summer sun. He waved at the old man, as he approach, and sat near him.

"Salam Halekum, Ismael. I have a favor to ask out of you. I know that we haven't always seen eye to eye on religious matters over the years, but I need your help today. There is a matter I need to attend in Mdina, a matter that... might involve infernal forces. I know that your bones makes you suffer, but would you be willing to assist me ?"

Antonius will also let know Maffeo and Euthymios that he has personnal business in Mdina, but that they are welcome to make the trip with him if they wish to. He will ask to be accompagnied by a shield grog.

Ismael will give an answer he has given before, "It does not matter that you do not accept the truth of the Great Lord, all that matter is that He accepts the truth of you. In'Shallah. I know little of the dark forces, but would gladly accompany you into town; I can always pick up a few new snares while I'm in town. Who knows, maybe my small Teachings can correct some of the inaccuracies you have been given by your priests. For example nowhere in your scriptures does it say that the Great Lord sells his forgiveness." Most of his theology is of a gentle teasing nature that eventually drifts into the discussion of philosophae and poetry.

Surprising depths for a Maltese peasant.

[tab][/tab]Maffeo will greet the situation with some worry... He is also a tiny bit afraid of/for Antonius and his frightful demeanor. After the listening to the tale the magus says, he nods and looks at Euthymios "[color=blue]I leave it to your call who goes, but one of us should. Also, besides the one for protection, I suggest taking another who knows about the church....'.

OOC If Euthymios wants to go, I'll take over a grog :slight_smile:

(OOC: If Tomas wants to come to, it would be a good opportunity to go and see the book seller again)

If it is mentioned to Tomas, he is happy to go into town. It was David who saw the book-seller before, but he is away. And Tomas does want to know if any of our books can be recovered.

The next morning, after his having completed his parma ritual and an early breakfast with Julia, Antonius will spend an hour meditating and praying, asking the Lord for help and guidance. When he is done praying, he the simple wooden cross pendant around his neck, stand up and proceed to pack a leather satchel with provisions, will depart for Mdina accompagnied with the other magi and covenfolk that too had business in Mdina.

As they were walking towards Mdina, the church bells could be heard in the distance, anouncing the Terce hour. Antonius kept mainly to himself during the trip, and seemed to be preoccupied.

The journey to Mdina is not long, and the slight discomfort of its divine aura settles in, until you get to Father Ratzinger's 'humble' church, where the aura of four weighs more heavily on the Gifted.
Father Ratzinger is sitting with a young woman who appears to have been beaten and cut, he pats her hands and rises to greet Antonius and his party.

"Good morning Father, I came as fast as I could."

Moments later, Antonius notices the bruises and cuts on the young woman. He put one knee in the ground, and makes eyes contact;

"Poor child. Who did this to you ?"

Father Ratzinger answers for her "That is actually part of the issue I have brought you here to help resolve. This woman is Tayma Zamzam. A couple of days ago she was dead, or seemed dead, with the injuries which you can still see some lingering scars from. Now the local legend says that there was an angel who came to her birth and proclaimed that no mortal hand no common malady would ever kill her. I'm not so sure about that part, but because of this when she died everyone assumed the killer must be supernatural. Now, she is not so dead. Her story is that her husband killed her and like Lazarus she is risen fro the dead. Her husband claims she was killed by a demon which tried to frame, and failing that has taken possession of his wife's body to cast aspersions on him. I have given what examinations I know and can find neither an indication that this was the hand of the divine nor any trace of the infernal. I thought with your background and expertise you might be able to lend assistance."

Ismael will hang unobtrusively in the back; Frankish priests often object to Saracen Imams beings included in possibly divine investigations. Regardless, he will check the woman for evil (Per + sense unholy + specialty evil + roll = -1+4+1+7=11).

Assuming that comes back with nothing he will examine the room to gain a sense of what kind of man this priest is; either the sybaritic corrupt kind, or the mistaken but good intents kind.

You sense no evil about the woman, and if this priest has any sybaritic tendencies they are not reflected here. the only thing of real material value in the room is a gold cross on one wall, the room is of bare stone, though it is expansive this appears to be in order to seat a good sized congregation.

Antonius listen closely to what the priest had to say, and he stands up.

"This is saddening story, if it is indeed the truth; these two souls should have found happiness in this sacred union, not hatred, despair and death."

He continues:

"Father Ratzinger, I am afraid magic help will be limited in this case. There are many things you can learn with divination magic, but it is powerless against demons. My mentor used to say that demons are lies incarnate. The only way to expose them witouth doubt, is with faith. I would however advance that she is not possessed, because as you probably know, they rarely stand being in holy places such as this church, as their they power is greatly diminished by God's presence."

"Still all is not lost, and we may get an answer, after all demons are not the only ones with multiple tricks in their bags. "

Antonius will reach for his bag, he get a piece of chalk out of it.

"Father, do I have your permission to use magic in your church ?"

After being allowed to do it, Antonius will ask the woman to stand and direct her to degaged space in the church crossing. He will then ask her to stand her still. He will then use the chalk to draw four concentric circles on the stone floor while incanting, the first one being for nothing (he another ReVi spell not related), the second for faeries, the third for demons and the fourth magical being."

When he is done, he will say to the priest:

"This should help us. If she is indeed a demon, she will not be able to cross the first circle, this a am sure."

And then address the scarred woman:

"Please, can you walk towards the cross ?"

As Antonius conducts his preparations, Ismael appears to be somewhat impatient, uncharacteristic for him. Finally he blurts out, "There is no evil here. No possess, no demon." He seems somewhat surprised at speaking that aloud, as if he was thinking it hard and did not realize he was speaking. A moment later he regains his normally laconic demeanor.

edit: He's speaking in Romany

Antonius will look at Ismael, puzzled (in arabic):

"I am sorry, what did you say ? I do not speak romany."

Ismael glances over at Ratzinger before answering in arabic, "She cannot be possessed, for no demon could duplicate the miracle of the prophet Jesus. Yet her heart beats and she is warm, so she is not corpse taken. There is no evil here, save the temptations always present in the soul of mankind."

The woman watches the proceedings detached. A touch impatient. When it is requested for her to walk towards the Cross she gets up and strides across the circles, stopping presumably at the fourth one. Tayma gets up and walks towards the cross as requested. So I assume we can stop this silliness and begin the process of Justice?

Father Ratzinger lowers his head in concentration. "There are a number of issues, first of all while a demon may not replicate the miracle of Jesus or Lazarus, it can simulate it. I have heard of a demon in Transylvania which animated a corpse and gave it a semblance of life, though it thirsted for blood as a reflection of that demon's nature. I believe however that we are in agreement, unless you wish to further examine her on the subject, that she is not demonically possessed or of a demonic nature.
At the same time I do not know enough to proclaim this a miracle, which means that, even should he abandon the argument of a demon possessing her Tayma's husband can simply proclaim that he is innocent by the fact she is not dead. Plus his family is powerful, at worst suspect they would owe favors to someone else in the government while an angry mob, whipped into frenzy by stories of a demon amongst them ripped Tayma to shreds, and I have no desire, well very little desire, to see if this restitution to life will repeat itself. I'm sorry my dear, but in all honesty, there is a small part of me which must confess curiosity in the face of something so overwhelming and magnificent as your apparent resurrection, but I do believe that trying to pursue justice directly would be a poor plan."

Tomas limps forward, leaning on his cane. "May I examine her wounds, and determine what needs to be done to bandage them?"