Chapter 3: Epiphany

To the Brother Librarian, Clement of Laach Abbey, Summer 1183

Greetings, Brother.

My heart was gladdened to hear of your appointment to the position of Librarian. I was confident that your fine hand and good heart would not go unrecognized. And while you claim no ambition, it appears that God and the Abbot have seen fit to look past your humility. I hope your new duties will allow you to complete the copy of the Enchiridion of Augustine you had been working on. I am interested to see the colors you chose for the Lord’s Prayer in the Chapter on Hope.

I will be traveling next month, as construction on the new building nears its close, and all should be ready, God willing, before the Feast of Saint Matthew. I look forward to living in a stable community again, after these last eight years as a wanderer. You will no doubt tell me again that I am welcome at Laach Abbey, and I am grateful for your open arms. But, as you know, God has seen fit to call me in another direction, and to another community, one in which I am content for now.

As I complete my current wandering, I wish you well in the new position.
You are in my prayers, as I know I am in yours,

((Where can Brother Clement send an answer? I would assume that Praxiteles' town house would be used for such purposes, but Aedituus may have made different arrangements, so I don't want to assume.))

((Praxiteles' house works fine.))

((OOC: I assume that was meant to be "Summer 1184"? Unless you want to start the correspondance in this thread more than a year before the story begins. If that is the case, I will rework the text accordingly. For now I assume that this is written in 1184.))

A letter delivered to the Koblenz townhouse, adressed to "Brother Abelard", near the end of Summer of 1184

My good Abelard,

It is good to hear from you, my friend. It is my hope that these words find you in good health and with the light of God warming your days.

I was happy to read that you will finally be able to settle down at your new community. Although I will miss the tales of your travels, it is good for the soul to settle down in a routine of prayers and contemplation, which from what little I know is difficult when travelling the roads. I sometimes envy you for the gift you receive of being able to do both, for that has aways been beyond my own strength. Perhaps some day I too will hear the calling to spread the Word by example amongst the children of the Allmighty.

Brother Gregory, may his soul rest in peace, had struggled for the last few years with his duties as librarian of the Abbey. I have discovered with some dismay that there were donations made to the library after the passing of the Lord of Eltz half a decade ago. I found a note regarding the donation, but no sign of the books themselves. It took me some weeks before those were found in the back of a store room. I have started sorting through this legacy, but work goes slowly as some of the books are quite old and must be handled with care. The day-to-day needs of our community also come first. And the copying of Enchiridion calls me.

Someday, perhaps you will tell me more about your scholars and their new community. It all sounds very mysterious to me, for I have heard little of them except what you have told me. Maybe one day I shall gather the courage and the will to visit you, if that is what God's will. But this may never happen, no matter how much I will it. As Augustine wrote in the Enchiridion: "Sometimes, however, a man of good will wills something that God doth not will, even though God's will is much more, and much more certainly, good—for under no circumstances can it ever be evil."[sup]1[/sup]

Your friend in God's embrace,

[sup]1[/sup] An actual quote from Enchiridion, passage 101 (in the chapter "The Triumph of God's Sovereign Good Will").

(( I had thought to start the conversation earlier, to explore the relationship between Clement and Aedituus a bit, first. Not a big deal, though.))

A letter delivered to Brother Clement of Laach Abbey, Autumn 1184

Greetings, Brother.

God's will is certainly mysterious, and I am still astounded at where He has led me. My travels are indeed at an end for now, and I am grateful for the gifts of both knowledge gained in traveling and peace in settling into my new community. Although not a monastery, the community does keep me busy with work and study. I find the routine comforting, and have awoken some nights expecting to hear the call to Hours being sung. Rather than rouse my fellows with a full-throated and probably off-key "Miserere", I content myself with singing Matins quietly in my room. God willing, I shall visit Laach Abbey again at some point, and sing with you once more. Your voice is truly a gift; the Spirit sings through you, clear and true.

I am curious to know what books you discovered in the donation, and wonder what treasures may still wait to be uncovered. Brother Gregory took delight in the books as if they were his own children, but I also know he felt very protective of them. Do you recall my first days in the scriptorium with you? You tried to tell me where to place my ink jar and where to place the newly copied pages, but stubborn sinner that I am, thought I knew better. Brother Gregory walked by and patiently rearranged my desk around me without a word until, "This is how we care for the words and the Word," before pacing back to his own desk. I would have thought him as serene as the Blessed Virgin, were it not for his crimson scowl! Your silent smile at that time remains warm in my heart today.

As the days grow ever shorter, and we near feast of All Hallows, I pray that God grant you and your brethern good health and peace. You are in my prayers, as I know I am in yours,

((Sorry I mistook the intent of the original letter. We can say that they exchanged letters infrequently in the last few years, because of Aedituus' traveling around for the creation of the covenant. Since they are living fairly close to one another, letters should only take two or three days to get from one to the other once it is written. So we have time for a few more before introducing important elements. I'll start dating them more precisely.))

A letter delivered to the Koblenz townhouse, adressed to "Brother Abelard", on September 30th, 1184

Greetings my friend,

As you know, God must have wanted me to concentrate on prayer and books, on listening instead of talking, for the stumbling of my own tongue is pleasing to no one. This is a lesson that I strive to learn again and again, and sometimes I get frustrated at being unable to speak a simple sentence clearly. Yet in His immense good, he allowed me to sing my love for Him. I find solace in this, as I do in silent prayers, as well as in my work at the scriptorium.

I am pleased to hear that your new community is agreeing with you. Work and study are good for the soul, but without prayer one cannot attain the grace of God. It is good for you to lead your scholars in prayer, for I am sure that your knowledge of God's word will help them care for their soul, much like your skill as a healer will help them care for their body.

The Eltz books are a puzzle. Many of them are of very little use, being ledgers and accountings of the manorial lands from decades past. But once in a while I have found a volume of a different nature, such as an old copy of the History of the Normans, or a marred book that I found this week. Its cover has been damaged so that the title cannot be read, but it seems to be some kind of treatise about the dead and departed. I found the passages I read somewhat disturbing. But I can only spend a little time sorting through these, so for now I am simply classifying them. Perhaps in a few years I will have time to read the more promising of them.

I shall leave you now, for supper has been called. I do not wish to be late, for I like fish from the lake and it is Friday.

The blessing of God be with you,

A letter addressed to Brother Clement of Laach Abbey, dated November 1, 1184

Greetings Brother.

Your description of the Eltz books is intriguing. I would have thought the collection would contain only the typical ledgers and registries, and possibly some Scriptures. It is a rare thing to find treatises among a lord's possessions.

By God's grace my studies are proceeding well. I find myself quite taken at this time with the workings of the mind, and the ability to control one's base needs. You know as well as I, for example, the instincts of the body for sleep can, when necessary, be overcome by exercising the mind. And also that sleep can be a powerful force, difficult to overcome for the untrained, as any novice finds. (Or Brother Stephan, whose singing sometimes sounds suspiciously like snoring during Compline. I am sure God forgives him, for he has a gentle soul.)

I thank God daily for the gift of my brother scholars. Their dedication to our community and to study and contemplation is inspirational. We are recently joined by a woman of some learning who is visiting us for an extended time. It is not uncommon for women to join convents such as ours, and her interests in healing intersect with my own. We have not needed to practice those arts, Deo gratias, as everyone has remained remarkably healthy and free from serious injury.

I recall God's bounty from the Lake, and Brother Cook's talents in the kitchen. I know Friday dinners should be solemn, but the Abbey is well blessed in this regard. It would be a sin not to appreciate what He has given you.

I pray God, through the intercession of his Saints, continues to bless you. Know that you and the brothers remain in my prayers, as I know I am in yours,

A letter delivered to the Koblenz townhouse, adressed to "Brother Abelard", on November 13th, 1184

My good Abelard,

I understand your surprise at the Eltz collection, for I too expected old ledgers and useless scribling. But most of the books contained in those crates are either damaged, wor by age, or both. A thought crossed my mind, that the new lord of Eltz may have wanted to clear some shelf space for more glamorous covers, without much regard for content. I spent some time praying to attone for such uncharitable thought, but I cannot help but feel there may be some kernel of thruth in it.

But I fear that I was unable to spend much time perusing old books, my friend, for I have been called to search for more pragmatic knowledge within our library. You remember our infirmarer, brother Paul? He has fallen sick, of a dreadful fever that came quickly and which burns hot. So his assistant, brother Tristram, who is newly arrived here and inexperienced, asked for my help in searching our library for possible remedies. We have had little luck in our search and I fear for brother Paul's life. Pray for him, for he is in God's hands.


A letter delivered to Laach Abbey on November 28, 11184, addressed to Brother Clement

Greetings, Brother.

My heart is indeed heavy to hear of Brother Paul's illness. I pray that God sees fit, in His Mercy, to deliver him whole and healthy back to you. And while, as the Apostle says, we may not know what God knows, perhaps you will find a bit of Wisdom in the Library to assist in Paul's healing. Perhaps if you could write to me with some details about the illness, I might be able to offer some knowledge as well? While I am sure Brother Tristram to be competent, and your own searches may prove fruitful, I am happy to add more than my prayers to your labors in Brother Paul's health.

((The letter includes several questions asking about specific symptoms, like swellings, smells, colorations, etc.))

I will apply myself to whatever answers you can provide, my friend. And I will keep Brother Paul and the rest of the Brothers in my prayers, as always.


A letter delivered to the Koblenz townhouse, adressed to "Brother Abelard", on December 3rd, 1184

My good Abelard,

Alas, Brother Paul is with God now, for he succumbed a few days after my last letter to you, before I even got your reply. His passing filled the monastery with sorrow, for he was dearly loved by all the brothers.

I am not knowledgeable in such things as you are, but from what Brother Tristram had me searching for, it was a wet fever which left Brother Paul hot and coughing thick flegm. (A few more details are included, but these match no specific disease that Aedituus' limited knowledge of medicine can identify.)

Your friend,
Brother Clement

On the 20th day of December, 1184, a young monk riding a donkey arrives at the Koblenz townhouse. The young man looks quite uncomfortable as he clumsily climbs down from his mount. Coming to the door, he knocks urgently and, once someone responds, he asks in German to see Brother Abelard. He explains that he bears an urgent message from Brother Clement and humbly asks to be directed to the community where Abelard lives.

A boy of about 13 years greets the messenger at the door to the house in Koblenz, and ushers him into a sitting room, past a room full of statuary. The boy introduces himself as Luca, and informs the young man that Abelard is not in the house, but Luca will be happy to have a message sent to the Magister. He offers the messenger some wine and bread.

((OOC: JL, feel free to jump in.

Since I don't think we have a protocol for visitors yet, and I am assuming that so far, Luca has been instructed to make sure letters are sent to the main site, he will probably take Clement's message to the main site, leaving the monk in the capable hands of Monica. If I understand the travel times correctly, it is almost a day's journey from Laach Abbey to Koblenz, and a couple hours from Koblenz to the Main Site. Thus, it would be getting on toward evening, and Luca would probably not leave for the covenant until the next morning, not wanting to walk through the forest at night.))

The monk thanks Luca for the bread, hesitating slightly before accepting the unwatered wine. He explains that his message is very urgent and verbal, so that if they could direct him to Brother Abelard it would be best.

((It is around mid-afternoon when the young monk arrives. A fast messenger could make it to the covenant before nightfall. And, although it is dangerous for mundanes to traveling the forest at night because of the ghosts, Aedituus' parma would protect him. He might even share it with one mundane to protect him/her from the ghosts.))

With Praxiteles out of the house, Luca is not sure what he should do. Ultimately, seeing the monk's agitation, Luca decides to take him the main site.

Luca is quiet on the trip, worried that he has made the wrong decision. Once they arrive, Luca asks the monk to wait near the garden while he goes to get Laurent or Brother Abelard.

Luca finds Aedituus in the main hall, as the magi leave their Winter meeting, and explains that he has a visitor, apologizing for not being able to provide warning that he was coming. Upon hearing that the messenger is from Laach Abbey, Aedituus instructs Luca, "Find Laurent or anyone from the kitchens, and have some watered wine and fruit sent up to my sanctum. Then ask if one of the guest rooms can be made up for the night. I will see to the brother's welcome." Aedituus walks calmly outside, his arms crossed in his sleeves, hopeful that to portray a calmer exterior than the worry and surprise he feels inside.

As he leaves the portico, he calls to one of the grogs to see to the messenger's horse. His concern increases when he sees the young monk's face. "Welcome to Laurus Argenti, brother. My apologies on your meager reception; we get few visitors, and I had not known you would be coming. Please, join me inside where it is warm." Aedituus ushers the monk inside. "Tell me, what news from the Abbey?"

The young monk jerks up from when he was leaning against his donkey's saddle when Aedituus addresses him. It seems he fell asleep while Luca went to fetch the Criamon. He seems a bit confused about where he is, but focuses on the tonsured magus. "Brother Abelard?" Aedituus does not recognize him from his own time at the abbey. His pale face and sunken eyes speak of exhaustion.

He lets himself be led into the main hall, while speaking a confused tale. "Many are ill, brother, with no one but brother Tristam to tend to them... He tries... but he does not recognize the sickness... two have died already... other Clement, he said you were a healer and would help... sent me to find you and ask... come back the the abbey... even the Brother Abbey was showing signs of the sickness!" The last is almost a sob.

Peace, brother. Come upstairs to my cell, and rest yourself. Abelard leads the young monk up to his sitting room, using the servants' stairs if any of the other magi are about.

((OOC: I'll stop here for a moment, in case anyone else feels like making this more interesting than it already might be ...))

The young monk resists weakly at Aedituus efforts to get him to rest, protesting that now that they must go back to the abbey as soon as they can. He seems to want to go back right away.

((OOC: How long does it actually take to travel to the Abbey from the main site? Based on the travel rules, it seems like the trip would take an entire day.))

((Sounds about right -- about 2 hours to get to Koblenz, and a further 6 hours to get to the abbey.

You basically have a number of options:

  • By starting off right away, you could rest a few hours in Koblenz then proceed to the abbey to arrive around noon.
  • If you only start off early in the morning, you'll arrive late in the day (or early evening).
  • If you wait until sunrise so that the ghosts are not an issue, then you'll only arrive late at night.
  • Finally, you could travel through the night to arrive early in the morning.

If you start off from the covenant while it is dark (and as it's close to the Winter solstice the nights are very long), then the ghosts in the forest will affect the young monk. Unless Aedituus extends his Parma to protect the young monk from the ghosts.))