Case 17: The Redcap's Defenders

Morlen ex Merinita of Greenstar Covenant brings suit against the magi of Graymere covenant. He accuses them of the high crime of molesting the fae, and the low crime of depriving Greenstar of magical resources. Darkmere counter-accuses him of interfering with a legitimate mission resulting in the loss of several valued grogs and personal enmity against one of their number. They ask for financial compensation for their grogs, and diplomatic intervention to protect the marked Magus. They also accuse Morlen of callousness towards the Redcaps, though that is not a crime in and of itself.

This complicated and violent story begins with a lady's honor.

Cora ex Mercere, an UnGifted Redcap, was engaged in her duties as messenger. A young Redcap, all parties in the suit agree that she has served the Order with loyalty and depdendability. She was travelling the road between two covenants when she was met by several creatures of the fae. Her memory of the events is a bit hazy, she strongly believes due to enchantment. As best as she can piece together, she was enchanted to join in a revelry and was taken by several of the fae. When the revelry ended, she awoke to find her clothing in disarray and her messages disorganized. Fearing she had been abused, she hurried to the nearest covenant, Darkmere.

On telling her story to the magi there, the Magi quickly assembled a strike team against the fae, led by Jeremy ex Verditius, Ryan ex Tytalus, and Sascha ex Flambeau. They entered the faerie court with some men-at-arms, and began attacking the faeries that matched Cora's description.

Morlen ex Merinita happened to be visiting with the faerie on a peaceful diplomatic mission, as Greenstar had forged some alliances with this court. On seeing the masked assailants attacking the court, Morlen defended the fae with a lethal Hermetic spell. His attack killed several of the grogs, including a trusted and experienced sergeant, but did not harm any of the Magi. On recognizing him, Jeremy called out 'Stop, sodale!' to identify himself secretly as a member of the Order of Hermes. Morlen continued to attack them, but used strictly non-lethal force such as entangling them with the trees around them or forcing them away. The Darkmere magi continued to slay the fae, but refused to target Morlen with their spells. In the struggle, Ryan's mask was knocked off. A magus with distinctive scars, the faeries were able to see his face and mark it, though they do not know his name.

Eventually, the Darkmere attackers retreated. The fatalities include several of the satyrs matching the description of those that abducted Cora, 6 grogs including the sergeant, and the local FAe baron, who was severely wounded but will survive. The baron is infuriated and plans to hunt against the individual whose face he saw, Ryan ex Tytalus.

The Darkmere magi argue that their actions were entirely within the code. They treat the abduction and mistreatment of Cora as an act of war and feel their vengeance was perfectly justified. First, they felt the harm upon a lady requireved vengeance. Second, they feel that any attack on a Redcap must be met with overwhelming vengeance, to ensure that the Redcaps feel trusted, protected, and supported.

Morlen argues that their actions were well outside the protection of the code. First, they made no attempt to further investigate Cora's story. While he does not accuse her of lying, they simply struck out with lethal force, without consulting the fae, their leader, or any faerie scholars. He acknowledges the possibility that her story may be true, but also states that it is highly unusual for this particular faerie court to force people into the reverly against their will. He feels that the indiscriminate attacks against any satyrs who might have been involved was an unjustified use of force and has severely damaged relations between the Order and the Fae. More specifically, Greenstar had enjoyed a treaty with the satyr court involving vis transfer, which is now null and void.

Morlen asks that the Darkmere magi be punished for their crime against the faeries, and that they be forced to compensate Greenstar for the loss of yearly vis.

Darkmere argues that Morlen's actions of unmasking one of their Magi has resulted in imminent harm to him and demand that Morlen use his influence to reduce the threat. They defend their actions by stating that they were protecting the Redcaps in general, and avenging Cora in particular.

Cora ex Mercere, badly shaken by the events, argues on behalf of the Darkmere Magi.
Note that neither party brings suit of lethal force against the other--even in their anger, the parties acknowledge neither Morlen nor the Darkmere magi struck against a known member of the Order.

Tempers are rising. What is your ruling?

Argutulus ex Guernicus, young and known for brevity, asks the Darkmere (=Graymere?) magi to explain the haste and lack of coordination of their attack against the fae. What was at stake that would have prevented checking with experts on the fae - like their sodales from Greenstar - before?
He also asks Morlen, to which degree his dealings with the satyr fae were known in the Order at large, and to Darkmere in particular.

Jeremy, seemingly the most even-tempered of Graymere, argues that prompt action was necessary. The outrages visited on Cora merited an immedaite response. Also, he contends (to Morlen's sputtering anger) that Morlen ex Merinita is not objective where the faeries are concerned. Morlen would simply have told them to leave the faeries alone, that any interference whatsoever is against the code. They also suspected that he would warn the faeries of an impending attack.

For his part, Morlen says that Greenstar is well known as a covenant allied with the fae, but that their vis dealings aren't particularly well known.

Argutulus notes, that the characteristics of the High Crime of molesting the fay are, that the fay are driven into a conflict with third party magi, but that it is a valid excuse for magi if they acted against the fay reasonably in defense of their lives and property.

Argutulus concludes, that hence the Darkmere magi knew of the interests of the Greenstar magi, and in particular Morlen, in the faeries in question.
So they knew also of the risk of perpetrating a High Crime, if the faeries would attack Morlen or other Greenstar magi as a consequence. And still they pursued with the retaliation. Why? Yes, they are in charge of assuring safe passage of redcaps to their covenant, but are not forced to do this by the extremely risky means of immediate punitive expeditions. How would they respond to charges of High Crime, if the faeries indeed would attack Greenstar?

Argutulus remarks, that so far only a vis deal of Greenstar with the satyr fae has fallen through, and suggests, that this is not yet an attack of these faeries on Greenstar triggering the accusation of the Darkmere magi 'molesting the fay' - but could still be pursued because it unintentionally deprived the Greenstar magi of magical power. it is also a Low Crime by Morlen, mitigated by self defense and the vast possibilities of faerie senses, to have revealed Ryan's face to the attacked fae, and to have killed several Darkmere grogs.

Argutulus hence asks Greenstar and Darkmere to both refrain from pursuing their charges further.
Instead, the Tribunal shall task them to jointly bring the relations of the Order to the satyr fae in question to a state, where these do leave magi - and in particular redcaps - in peace. This includes Greenstar insisting with the fae to leave Ryan in peace, and Darkmere respecting the interests of Greenstar in fruitful relations with these fae.
The Tribunal shall further task both Greenstar and Darkmere to jointly present an account of their actions and successes towards these goals at the next Tribunal meeting, in seven years.

ADDED AT RE-READING: After this, Argutulus speaks with Cora in private and stresses his opinion, that the Tribunal owes her at least some Corpus spells cast by an expert, and some advice on faerie matters. It is of course her decision whether and how to request and collect these.

Tijentsus ex Guernicus stands and asks:

"As a quaesitor, I must deplore the attitude of Darkmere's magi, who took justice in their own hands without even trying to talk to the Fae Baron, who if I understand right was not among Cora ex Mercere's attackers. But that is not the issue here, and I have a more relevant question:

Did the magi of Darkmere at any time tell the faeries why they were attacking them ?

If they attacked with no explanation, and killed all the offenders, then how is the Fae Baron to know that his people where in the wrong to begin with ? He'll have no choice but to conclude that he was attacked without provocation, and will naturally retaliate."