Chapter 7: Council meeting

Spring 1222

The magi meet in the council chamber. Justus has as usual made sure that the table is covered with good food and excellent wine. The wine of the evening is golden and from the Rihne. There are a number of chairs empty. Formal introduction has since long been take care by the magi and they mood is a quite pleasant one. The new magi have learnt that the food and wine is never better than what Justus make sure is served at a council meeting. Before the covenfolk representatives are sent in Justus speaks to his soldaes.

I must spend part of this season travelling. I must put more effort into my original mission here. I must travel the villages and make some contact with the witches of the forest. But it won’t be much of a problem as I will return here from time to time. If needed Mariella has the authority to make decisions if I am on my travels. After all Mariella has been since the founding. Now however I shall summon the covenfolk.

As usual Justus summons the covenfolk. All of the covenfolk bows in turns as their name are called. We will let them speak in turns and then we can ask them questions.

Erich is allowed to speak first. Erich is a forceful man who speaks with a stern voice. There are many young men that are trying to get into the militia so we have a good selection of recruits. We train them so they can fight as a group in case the covenant should need more hands when it comes to defence. I have however notices that there are a few more cases of violence towards the Jews that has settled here, though at this time it is not much of a problem. I am more worried about the fact that there are some amongst the militia who are also hostile towards the Jews. I maintain discipline so for now it has not become a problem it is only a few cases.

Gunter is a slender man with a cruel look upon his face and speaks with a soft voice. Our funds are not decreasing any more. We are now at 70 pounds of silver though I am still worried about that they will become more of a target for brigands and such like now that more know about our covenant.

Horst is next one to speak. His average height and has a sturdy body can easily mistake him for a peasant rather than the head of the villagers. The village is being reconstructed we have avoided expansion into the forest even if we have to take some building materials from there. However I have two matters that I wish to present to you. First there is a plead from my in-law the mayor of Kolberg regarding a horrible spirit that haunts the streets of Kolberg. The second is that the village court needs your wisdom in a trial.

Father Gerald steps forward and starts to speak. As I said before the spiritual state of the villagers leaves some things to be desired, there much sin and vices. It is the same problems as I reported of last time. The drinking and gambling den spreads it’s corrupting influence amongst the flock and more people are getting some very strange ideas regarding our faith. I think that there is something wrong with the Latin school as there is a lot of strange questions coming from especially students there. I am worried.

Mariella does not avail herself of the luxuries she has since the incidents in Winter kept herself to the limited diet of a repentant sinner.
Of all our concerns bandits are the least of our problems we have skilled defenders , and myself and several of the magi are capable annihlating any likely bandit force. Matters of discipline amongst the grogs are I think best handled by others than myself. Could you give us more information on the court problem as that is a matter we should probably consider in council.

Horst: I can present the ones that should speak in that trial or you could visit us down at the village councils court chamber. I prefer not to speak of the case as I wish that those involved should speak for themselves.

I am presuming Riccardo is recovering well and without complication.
[color=red]If you have a discipline problem amongst the grogs, I would gladly volunteer my expertice. My great-great grandfather, Don Diego de Bivar, me managed to command a force of an unruly mixture of both Christians and Moslems, and forged them into a disciplined force capable of conquoring Valencia. I have inherited much of his skill, and I offer this service to you.

Is there anything else you wish to speak to our covenfolk representatives? Ask Justus and look at his soldaes. Unless there is then I think that we shall move on to the trial. I suggest that we take a walk down to the village court and see what we have to decide about.

(Full recovery , Krispin had given you a truly impresive boost on the healing rolls)
Your help in dealing with our covenfolk would be most useful. I find that my presence causes problems even more so after recent events.

As no magi seem to have anything else to add to the discussion the magi are escorted down to the village council hall where the trial is being held. Father Gerald and Horst has accompanied you from the covenants council chamber, the other advisors has returned to their duties.

In the courtroom there are several persons gathered. Besides the audience there are a two men and a woman. The woman is standing next to one of the men. Both men look like they where in a brawl last night and judging by the upper arms of the man next to the woman and the face of the other man the man next to the woman got out on top.

The magi are escorted to their seats at the court and Horst begin to ask the persons to tell their tales one at the time.

The man with the most injuries speaks first. My Lords, the man looks at the magi, I am Gunther owner of the local amusement establishment (this is the gambling den that father Gerald curses every time he can). This man had lost to me his two cows in a fair game. He agreed to bet them against his previous gambling debt. He later where given the opportunity to gamble for his collective debt, money and two cows, by placing his farm on the line. He lost again and last night when I came to collect my rightfully earned winnings he assaulted me and thankfully I have been it a scuffle or two so I managed to get out. So now I stand before this court to have the property that so rightfully belongs to me. I can produce witnesses that could speak for me, so you now that my words are true.

Horst gestures to the other man to speak as the first silences. My name is Ditwin and I own the farm up by the forest line, this is my wife Trude. I have been fooled by the devil. He could my mind as soon as I take a drink from the bottle and he has given me an urge to drink always and too much. I where under the influence of the dark one when I made to bets. I have sworned and God is my witness that from now one I will never touch the bottle and will live the life of a pious man. I have seen the errors of my ways and I wish to repent. However I can not be held responsibly when the devil clouds my judgement.

Before Horst can say anything Trude cuts in. My husband the beer drenched fool he has never ever gotten my permission to gamble away our means of life. If I had anything to say in the matter this godforsaken oaf never ever should have been allowed to gamble at that sinful den off wicked ways. Trude glares at Gunther and if looks could kill…

Horst now turns the trial over to the magi.

Tatiana listens carefully to the trial and she has several quick questions.

To the merchant: "do you usually accept people's houses and livelihoods at your gambling? Is the debt one that could be worked off in labor instead of possessions? Would you put them out of a way to live?"

To the farmer, "Do you deny that you did what was done and claim that you have no responsibility"?'

Finally she looks to Justus since she is new, "Don't all these lands belong to us that individuals have no right to trade or bargain away what is ours? They use it with our sufferance?"

Riccardo looks askance at the "bookie".
[color=red]Why is this even brought forth before us? If he owes a gambling debt, go into his house and cut off a finger or two. That's how they do it in Italy. If you can't handle it, and he instead manages to give you a sound thrashing, you deserve it! He who profits from usury should expect no help from the law. Likewise, a man who owes a debt should pay that debt, and he should expect no protection or assistance trying to escape that debt.
I don't see how this issue is any of our business.

ooc I thought I had posted this on sunday , but I was using a borrowed PC and it's internet connection must have failed as several posts seem to have vanished

Quietly to the other magi
In general we try to maintain the peace amongst the residents of this covenant and surrounding areas by settling disputes , particularly as we are the authorities here and do not want any attempts to call in other authorities to settle disputes. I do not beleive we own all the lands in this area while we have the authority and powers of justice in this land the locals are mainly Freemen and have effective ownership of their own lands. I prefer not to deal with day to day events as the understanding of magi such as ourselves of the lives of peasents is often incomplete and frankly they are not very interesting.
However we are the authorities and I have no intention of risking a challange to our authority by avoiding issues when they come before us, if some mundane lord took it upon himself to assume the authority we had let slip it would be more bothersome to eliminate him.

Mariella pauses and favours the 3 supplicants with one of her better glares

I do not approve of gambling it is impious so I am not best pleased with any of you.
Ditwin you blame the devil but it seems that the devil only manifests through your drinking which is your sin I soubt there has been an actual demonic possession they are much rarer and more noticable than this. I hear your oath to give up drink and besides God you will answer to me if you break your vow. Can you pay the original debt or had your sense already fled you?
Gunther you have taken advantage of a weak man and gone beyond the limits I consider acceptable . Personally I have no time for the encouragment of gambling and such vices in the past my Sodali have argued against inteference in such moral matters but you tread the line of forcing me to act against you. To take a families livelihood is not acceptable however clearly through this fools folly you have a debt I am minded to see you are paid the original debt before this riduculous escalation to the cows and the farm and see to it you are paid the fine owed by Ditwin for his assault .
Trude seems blameless but for the mistake of marrying a drunken impious fool and it would not be right to punish an innocent for his drunken folly.

"I am minded that he pay his full debt however the taking of the livelihood is unacceptable. Who will work the lands, who will tend the farms and food if one person takes it and can't work it. We would soon have empty farms and no food because everyone had to go elsewhere as they had no homes. I think I would rule as follows:

First, the gambling debt is a debt and oath to pay and oaths must be respected to some extent. As such, Detwin must work for Gunter several hours every day until such time as the value of the debt is repaid to the value of the farm and cows. A fair assessment of the value owed and time required to compensate him will be delivered to us. It better be fair because if we feel it is excessive, the amount of the extra time instead will be subtracted from the time he serves.

Second, If we ever hear of Gunter taking somone's livelihood or home through gambling, I say that Gunter forfiets half his livelihood and possessions to us as well as the debt being canceled. You can gamble for service for a time to repay the debt but never take the livelihood or home.

Third, Detwin has sworn off his drink. Oaths are sacred. Should he be caught with drink, he is to be flogged with an increasing number of strokes each time. His wife will have the right to administer half of them if she wishes. The number shall be 10 times the occurance number. So 10 strokes the first time, 50 on the fifth.

Fourth, all ownership of the property, cows and possessions are vested in Trude. Detwin currently has what clothes he owns, and what he earns or makes going forward but all other possessions belong to Trude and should Detwin try to use any of them for any purpose without her permission, it shall be counted stealing.

Finally, for the fact that this nonsense got to this point through the idiocy of the two involved. They should have known better. Both owe us a serve to be determined."

Tatiana does like to be thorough and complete in her decisions. She has sympathies and compassion and this should hopefully prevent a reoccurance without anyone losing too much. This shoudl also keep Detwin too busy laboring between normal job and paying back the gambler to drink for a while. Sin doesn't matter in the last to her. Oaths and what seems right for her.Of course the fact that she has gold instead white in her eyes, shows her heritage is not exactly fully human.

[color=red]Just take his pinky finger and be done with it. He cannot have it back until the det is paid. That should teach him a lesson about drinking and gambling.

(yes, I watched a lot of Sopranos :laughing:)

(EDIT: I should note that I am using Guile. I don't really want anyone to cut off fingers. Though it would be interesting. But I want these guys to a) feel bad about their dispute, b) feel guilty for their sins of usury and gambling, and c) realize hou seriously some people take matters such as this. I also want to establish a few principles: 1) we won't aid usurers or aid in their collections of debts, 2) if someone beats you up because you owe them money, you probably deserve it, 3) if someone beats you up while you are trying to forcibly collect gamblings & usury debts from them, you are in the wrong business.)

Justus looks at his soldaes and speak with a soft voice. I think that Tatianas ruling is a fair one. Shall we agree to rule so in this matter? I can’t come up with a better idea or shall I say that we retreat to or council room to debate the matter further. If not we should make a ruling here and discuss what we should do about the call of aid from Horst’s in-law.

[color=red]I don't agree with the ruling. We should not be anyone's debt collector, nor the enforcers of any private agreements. If Detwin owes Gunter money, let him pay what is due. If the fellow is unable to collect his debt, at the very least he can refuse to do business with the debtor. And if Detwin looses his farm and cows, so be it. Serves him right. Let Gunter hire laborers for his fields, or sell the land to another. If someones looses their home and farm to Gunter, why should Gunter be punished and the debtor relieved? I am especially bothered by that provision. As for Detwin's wife flogging him, their sex life is none of our business either. And we in no way should be regulating the ways that fools want to be foolish. We are not lords or clergy.

"We need our people to be working to support us. To do so, they should not be gambling away their means of support and no gambler should be accepting means of support. It takes one to make the bet and one to accept the bet. We will not be having such bets made. We are setting the punishments for if this happens again. Gunter now knows what will happen if he accepts such a bet again. He will spread it around as well so that others don't accept the bets he won't. Since that was not clear before now, we are first making sure this is understood. Still the issue before us needs to be resolved. The bet was made and lost so the debt is owed. It will be paid off in labor rather than his livelihood. Detwin will be paying his debt in full just not with possessions. Second since he can't be trusted to handle his possessions, all current possessions belong to his wife. He wants something new, he will have to work to earn or get her permission as it is her life and support he endangered."

"I don't know what you consider sex but flogging is not something pleasant where I come from. Fifty can be fatal. One hundred always is. It is a very nasty punishment. Ten makes a person really think hard about what they did. We are the lord here appearantly that we have the authority and right to give punishment. Since the Wife is the one that suffers the most from his crimes, she gets the right to give some of the punishment but if she doesn't want to, we will. He made an oath not to drink again and promises, pledges and oaths to us will be enforced."

"Finally since this should have never gotten to this point as Detwin should have known better about drink and Gunter about accepting that sort of bet. they owe us for resolving this for them. Gunter is getting off light, he is getting full value of the lost bet and getting justice. Nothing is free though and since he took up our time and effort with this, he will pay us in a service to be determined for it. Detwin is getting off light, he isn't getting flogged this time, he is getting to keep a means of support though it is through labor instead so he also owes us. Finally the true innocent, Detwin's wife is getting control of the family property as she seems the only responsible party in this group. Since she is the victim, we will not demand service from her. It is better than cutting off fingers because the last thing we want is one of our workers to be crippled or encourage mutilation for lost bets."

A point to make is that the covenant council is the lord of this land so this is our business . As the ruling authority of this land we have a duty to ensure that those within our authority follow reasonable standards of behaviour. Your comments about flogging are most incomprehensible and seemingly improper. We have in the past tended not to intefere too strongly in the moral standards of the locals as the magi have had differing views on such matters.

I can accept Tatiana's version of a settlement it does not differ strongly from mine and the differences are not enougth to be a problem.

[color=red]Too restrictive. If men want to gamble and drink and be foolish, it is their right. As for the flogging comment. Well, I once knew this maga named Regelare...

Justus thinks for a moment. We have not reached a mutual sentence that we all can agree upon but we have a ruling that the majority of us agree upon. Now shall we debate this matter further? If anyone has a better idea, please present it or shall we make a ruling, be done with it and stick to the consequences what ever they may be. I think that it is wise that we make an effort to enforce debts and make sure that transactions of goods, services or money are carried through.

"Anything that disrupts the smooth operation of our village can not be tolerates. Men are not free to do anything they want. We make rules and they follow them. These insure that things flow the smoothest for us and for them." It is a very selfish reason to have laws and do justice but it is a good one. Tatiana is firm. Three of four wanted this. She wished it was polite to use magic on the redcap to sway him.

[color=red]Are we to be ruled by a tyranny of the majority then? Like in the communes of Italy? Or are we to rule by established precepts of law? What if I want to gamble, play dice with my fellow magus for some vis? Is it not my right? Are we to hold the mundanes to a higher moral standard than we hold ourselves to?

Anyway, you have my opinion. But it is only one of four. In the jury trials of ancient Greece, it only took a majority vote, not a unanimous one. However, I do ask you to reconsider, you are establishing a dangerous precedent.