Case 5: The Fire of Exeter

One from one of my sagas --

Case 5: The Fire of Exeter

A group of magi were attempting to recover an item from a Bishop, and his Templar associates. Arriving in Exeter by night by river, they botched the burglary of a riverside warehouse, alerting the Templars who cornered two of the magi. One of them cast a Creo Imaginem spell to create the illusion of a demon, and the other used a Creo Ignem to create a blast of fire to burn and drive off the Templars. Then it all went horribly wrong - the Creo Ignem botched, and caused a much larger fire than intended, which set fire to the warehouses. A high wind caused the fire to spread, and soon most of the city was on fire, and by dawn the next day the city was in ashes. Furthermore some of the Templars survived, and clearly saw spell casting by the magi, apparently in conjunction with demonic activity.

The magi fled, but their actions soon became known through the Stonehenge Tribunal. They diplomatically failed to show up for Tribunal, but a clerk of the Bishop who knew much of the Order arrived at Tribunal and asked to state what he had seen, and call for justice.

What is the opinion of the assembled magi on this matter?

cj x

How long since the incident happened and is this the regular Tribunal or something put together to deal with the incident?

If the Tribunal learns of the incident there and then, from the Bishop's man, then it's not immediately clear what happened.

The best response, in my mind, would be to tell the clerk that the magi follow a Code strictly forbidding them to deal with demons, and to raze cities to the ground (except in just retribution against the inhabitants :slight_smile: ). Thus, it may well be that the magi in question had been fighting the demons, and possibly bravely lost their lives to save Exeter. Or maybe, some of the demons simply disguised themselves as magi, to sow dissent. I'd further suggest that, if the Bishop and his men will prevent spreading ill-breeding rumours about magi being responsible for the fire, the Tribunal is certainly willing to conduct a magical investigation and report the findings to the Bishop. Such an investigation will eventually confirm that no magi are responsible, and it's all some demon's fault :slight_smile:

So, no airing of dirty laundry in public :slight_smile: But once the clerk's departed, the Tribunal really should choose to investigate the issue. If the Tribunal learns the truth, well, this is a clear case of interference with mundanes. As to the punishment, in addition to a hefty vis fine, I'd bar the magi involved from having any dealings, magical or mundane, direct or indirect (through servants etc.) with anyone in the region involved (two or three days' march from Exeter) for, say, 20 years; clearly stating that, should they contravene to the Tribunal's injunction, they'll be cast out and Marched.

It happened 9 days before the Tribunal began. The clerk, entirely by fortune because he did not know Tribunals were once every seven years, on the second day. As such the normal 90 day notice has been missed, and there has been no chance to summon the offenders to appear before Tribunal. IT could be deferred seven years to next Tribunal...

cj x

It is not clear yet if this will have consequences for other members of the Order. As such, it is not clear a clear crime can be hung on the culprits. They can certainly be chastised for mishandling the situation, but not necessarily marched. if the Templars or other mundane institutions start to cause problems for other magi (probably because some enemies of the culprits point them in that direction) then it becomes a major breach of the code and the magi must be hunted down and the mundanes assured that this is an internal thing of the Order and as such thank you for pointing it out, but we handle our own things, and that they have been correctly chastissed for missbehavior. Cut the rotten plant before it spoils the tree. that might mean sending them to Novgorod or to colonize Vinland instead of killing them if the damage can be repaired somehow.


Alexis of Tytalus sighs.

"I would suggest to our leader, the Praeco" he nods towards him, "to assure this good messenger that these two men acted on their own, without any consent or even knowledge from our Council. Despite this, we are of course deeply worried by the possibility of diabolism, and are sorry for the fire and its consequences, and so we will be glad to ascertain what has happened - and once we do so, we will certainly mete out justice."

Once he leaves, Alexios spews some ancient Greek epithets to more properly describe his opinion of these magi. "I would suggest to this Tribunal", he adds, "to pass a Peripheral Code ruling that disguising Hermetic magic as Infernal tarnishes the good name of our Craft, and that if mundanes catch glimpse of it, and as a result accuse magi and the Order of being diabolists, then this endangers their sodales and hence constitutes a High Crime.

"I would also suggest that in this case much damage has already been done. I would ask the Tribunal to elect and send a team of peacemakers to the bishop and templars, to assure them of the good intentions of our Order and that the two magi will be found and punished. This team should also investigate the magi and their magic, to assure the Tribunal that this was indeed an illusion and not diabolism proer.

I would also have the two pay for the services of this team, in the amount of 5 pawns of vis for each delegate. I would also forbid them from ever visiting or dealing with Exeter or its surroundings again, as suggested above, but for a period of 70 years. Should risk later come to any other magus as a result of their careless act, they would have to answer for that as well."

"Alexis of Tytalus speaks sense" Says Tenebrous of Criamon from the covenant of Brunnaburgh.

"These magi have potentially bought trouble with the church and the templars upon us. We must make swift moves to pacify the church and punish the wrongdoers if this crime is theirs. But we must be cautious and be seen to be acting above board. We cannot afford to have the church believe that we committed these crimes and then swept it all under the rug. The magi must be seen to be punished."

"Furthermore I second the call for the peacemakers and an investigative team to travel to the area to ascertain the facts of the case and make sure no actual devilry was present"

Korvin ex Mercere stands.

Can I have something cleared up so there are no assumptions? Is it the Clerk of the Bishop or the Bishop who has much knowledge of the Order? Basically, is the Bishop making a formal case for restitution or is the clerk acting on his own ( or by orders of the Bishop)?

Or a special Tribunal convened. The Stonehenge Tribunal is notoriously inquorate, though. :smiley:

It is the Bishop, Simon de Apulia, who knows something of the Order and sent him: but the clerk Radulf, has been briefed. Radulf is very keen to be on his way. He does not seem to be enjoying your august company! Bishop Simon incidentally is a Canon Lawyer, but also trained as an advocate in his youth and has an excellent knowledge of Common Law and a reputation for being aggressive in defence of the Churches rights...

cj x

There are two issues here. Firstly from our point of view the actions as described by Radulf are a clear breach of the "interference with mundanes" clause even from a consequentialist interpretation given that Radulf is here - they must be tried for that high crime by us. Secondly there is the harm done to the bishop, see, and city of Exeter for which they understandably want an accounting - it is not strictly our place to hold the accused Magi to that account but both natural justice and our pragmatic duty to maintain peace with the church demand that we try to see those wronged parties satisfied. However there is a fine line we must walk because it must be clear that neither the Stonehenge Tribunal nor any member Magi or Covenants not directly connected to the incident bear any responsibility for it nor liability for damages arising. Likewise, while there must inevitably be cooperation with the secular and church powers we must nor cede any independence or authority to them.

I suggest that regarding the first point, since the Hermetic charge will be a high crime, we adhere to the principle of giving sufficient notice to the accused rather than attempting a trial in absentia at this time. There is no indication that they are malicious enemies of the Order and a delay will give time to investigate, negotiate and assess. I would almost say that it can wait until the next Tribunal but there is the possibility that the mundanes will demand a capital punishment and we will need a timely and considered response. Therefore a special Tribunal in 90 days to hear the case would be in order.

We must send some trusted agents to negotiate with Bishop Simon and to take testimony and investigate the traces of magic in Exeter - do we have any gentle gifted quaesitores?

M ex G

Ecelo ex Miscellanea, an itinerant Seeker, in the presence of the Bishop's clerk, says:

"We are too fast to accuse our sodales! This man says that magi were seen casting spells at the same location as a fire breathing demon. How do we know that the they were not actively fighting against the demon? How do we know that they even exist, rather than being some illusion produced by the demon to sow enmity between us and the good people of Exeter? We should investigate the matter before jumping to conclusions. We'll then be glad to report our findings to the Bishop, as a gesture of goodwill -- and he may rest assured that if there are indeed magi in league with demons, we'll hunt them down, as the rules of our Order command".

With that, he's clearly stating that the clerk is dismissed, and should leave the Tribunal.

After the clerk has left, Ecelo sighs. "Alas, the rumours were true. Those fools managed to raze a whole town, and give the impression they were in league with demons too. As for the mundanes, I'd try to pretend that those "diabolists" never existed, and it's all some scheme of demons to unfairly incriminate us. Or, we can pretend they existed, that we did hunt "them" down, and present to the Bishop two charred and unrecognizable corpses as ... evidence. I would, however, avoid admitting any wrongdoing on our part -- that is, on the Order's part -- or offering to make reparations. It would create a really dangerous precedent, and I doubt it would improve our standing with the mundanes anyway.

This does not mean we should not punish those idiots severely. This is a blatant case of interference with mundanes that endangers all of us. Whether we tell the Bishop they never existed, or that they were diabolists and were hunted down, the most important thing is that those goofs be kept away from Exeter and the surrounding lands for decades -- until the people of Exeter forget about them.Maybe we should just banish them from the Tribunal in perpetuity? I have the nagging feeling that, if allowed to stay, their blundering will keep afflicting us with trouble after trouble.

In any case, I would add some stiff vis fine to this; though I agree they should not be marched this time."

OOC: Other than the botch, I think that the demon illusion was not such a dumb move. If the rest of the Tribunal plays it smart, they can just lay all the blame on the Infernal. If I were the bishop, I would suspect demons more than a bunch of recluse wizards who generally avoid interference in mundane affairs.


Do you have enough knowledge of what happened to lay the charges yourself, Ecelo? We need the facts even if we decide to muddle the evidence for the Bishop. If our "investigators" are actually mentem experts who will leave all the witnesses convinced it was hedgie diabolists it will be simpler if they're not trying to find the actual truth.

Not that I recommend that path - too many people know the truth and you just proposed the deception in open session - we'd be relying on basically the whole of Stonehenge cooperating in conspiracy including the idiots' personal enemies, your personal enemies, whoever does the dirty work's personal enemies, anyone devout, anyone with family in Exeter, gossips... And it's not like Bishop S would be a hard man for a tip off to reach.

As for letting them with a fine - a matter for the trial but I for one would need one hell of an extenuating circumstance or an impossibly good outcome on the damage control to move away from the nasty end of the punishment scale. And frankly, if we shield them from the law of the land by deception or negotiation or plain stubborness, however desirable that is from a policy point of view, we then have a moral responsibility to the dead and the homeless whose justice we have denied!

Ecelo says: "I've just heard rumors, like most of us here at Tribunal."
(OOC: check out the OP post "The magi fled, but their actions soon became known through the Stonehenge Tribunal.")

Ecelo shrugs. "Keeping this mess private is in every magus' interest. Do you think the mundanes, even the Bishop, will be so discerning as to distinguish between me, you, and the idiots? No, the whole Order will be seen as group of dangerous madmen with likely ties to the devil. Madmen who share the responsibility for having burnt Exeter to the ground, and who should pay, at the very least by putting their magic at the Bishop's disposal for years... Even if I were the worst enemy of those idiots, and calling for an immediate March, I would strive to keep the whole thing among us."

Ecelo shrugs again. "Justice ... an empty word. The dead will stay dead no matter what we do. The homeless will stay homeless even should we March those fools. Since, from what I've heard, this did not come from malice but from mere incompetence, I do not lust for vengeance. But should the Tribunal call for a March ..." Ecelo shrugs a final time.

Yeah, I'm being naive on that. But not so naive as to think that everyone who already knows the story will act with what we think is intelligent self interest.

Right, the last case I will close for tonight - that brings me up to a week ago. This one was actually as described, but the repercussions were so horrible I expected the Tribunal to vote overwhelmingly for a March! However the thing that came out of this one is how important people think mitigation is -- and HOH: True Lineages says yes, the motive for committing the crime is very important in determining guilt. Their actions were careless, reckless even, and i'm still not convinced creating illusory demons to frighten mundanes is within acceptable behaviour for a magi -- in fact I strongly believe it is not -- but the magi in question clearly did not set out to cause the chaos and destruction that followed. However anyone can botch.

CASE CLOSED - though comments still very welcome - RULING: GUILTY. The magi to be fined a rook (ten pawns) of vis each, and to be vanished from the Tribunal, on pain of MArch, for the span of three Tribunals.