Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Session Forty-Seven: The Parson’s Tale

The Shroud

The company spends the day shopping in Noyon and visiting the shrine of Saint Polycarp, curer of dysentery. Everyone buys a commemorative pilgrim’s badge, cast in the shape of a pointed-bottomed unguent bottle. Garnier is surprised that it doesn’t look like a pile of poo.

Magnus Departs

The next morning, the players awaken to find Magnus packing his things and getting ready to set out on his own. When questioned, he says that he has received a missive from his lady love, the Baroness Josephine. Garnier, who has a more realistic understanding of how Josephine feels about Magnus, suspects that Magnus is lying. He tries to steal the letter, only to have his hands swatted away by Magnus.

While Magnus and Garnier argue, Maurice slips in and steals the letter. After everyone says goodbye and Magnus leaves, Maurice passes the letter to Pierre. It is not, as it happens, a love letter from Baroness Josephine. Addressed to “to whom it may concern,” the letter explains that Magnus is the last surviving heir of a wealthy barony, and that he must travel alone to a remote location to collect his deed and noble title.

Garnier and the others opine that the con artists who have sent the letter are going to be very, very upset when they meet Magnus.

The Journey to Turin

For the final time, the company boards their landship and travels at speed down the road to the great city of Turin, the last stop on the pilgrims’ progress. Henri the innkeeper regales everyone with the tale of the Shroud of King Gilles, Bretonnia’s once and future king. 

The company reaches Turin in the early evening and is instructed to park their landship in a cobblestoned courtyard just inside the main gate. The company arranges for lodgings at an inn near the main gate and takes some time to do a little exploring and shopping.

Herbs and Notions

Maurice and Pierre locate an upscale herbalist’s shop, from which Pierre purchases the ingredients he needs to make healing draughts. The two men also buy some concoctions that are said to be cures for poisons.

Maurice does not find what he really wants at the herbalist’s shop, and soon ditches Pierre to go searching for a less discerning alchemist. He runs into Renee, who seems to be prowling the shops of Turin looking for the same thing. They find a ramshackle shop run by a grinning individual clad in layers of burlap, who is happy to sell them both poison. This individual is also happy to grind up the mysterious herbs that Maurice bought in Paix, turning them into deadly poison.

Renee is aghast at the amount the shopkeeper quotes for the poison, and suggests to Maurice that they leave and return with their knight friends, to shake the shopkeeper down. Maurice demurs and hands over the last blue gem he pried off of the deadship in Annecy. This goes a long way to defray the cost of the poisons. Maurice and Renee leave, promising to return tomorrow. Renee grumbles only a little bit.

Rumors and Gossip

Sir Jean-Marc tries to befriend the occupants of the inn’s common room, and learn a little bit of the local news from them. He realizes that this was a significantly easier task in his former life as a roustabout. As a knight, people tend to be friendly to him by default, but much more circumspect. Despite Jean-Marc buying a few rounds, the assembled do not feel comfortable enough to divulge any useful information. They have a good time, though.

A Guard of the Basilica

A Walk Around Town

Sabina and Frieda go on a walk in the lovely spring evening, just enjoying one another’s company and marveling at Turin’s stunning architecture.

The walk is soon spoiled when Frieda notices something untoward on the roof of a nearby house. She alerts Sabina, who looks up to find a man in a short, hooded robe holding a pigeon and glaring down at them. Sabina also notes, to her rising horror, that the man wears leggings that are identical to those that Maurice “acquired” from the “shitter shiver.”

Sir Henri’s Quest

Sir Henri goes alone to visit the Basilica of Myrmidia, where the Shroud of King Gilles is kept. He hopes to speak with the Bishop of Turin on several matters, but is told that he is not currently available. Sir Henri leaves word with a priestess that he needs to speak to the bishop about a monk (Geoffrey) that he and his companions have brought to Turin for judgment. Furthermore, he wishes to pledge himself to the bishop’s service, should his sword arm be required.

Sir Henri also says that he wises to ask the bishop for a boon regarding his friend Henri the innkeeper. He says that Henri has been an excellent friend, a faithful companion, and a wonderful guide for their pilgrimage. Sir Henri wishes to reward Henri by getting permission to have him lay his hand upon the Shroud of King Gilles.  

The priestess seems touched by this, and tells Sir Henri that she will convey his messages to the bishop without delay. She expects that the bishop will have time to meet with Sir Henri during the pilgrimage’s visit to the shroud the next day.

The Affair of the Combs

Garnier spends some time and money at the marketplace, adding yet more outlandish garments to his already inimitable wardrobe. He also takes some time to purchase fine, bone combs for everyone in the company and pilgrimage that he cares about. He spends extra to have these combs engraved with the names of their recipients.

Upon returning to the inn, Garnier calls over everyone in the company, as well as Henri the innkeeper, Frieda, and Jim. He passes out the combs, which are well-received. Jim offers to take Jules’ comb to him, only to be told that Garnier purposefully did not buy Jules a comb, because he hates him. Jim is taken aback, but promises to keep the combs, and the fact that Jules didn’t get one, a secret.

Pierre gallantly offers to give his comb to Jules, as he is bald and doesn’t need one. Garnier insists that Pierre keep the comb for several reasons: 

  • It has Pierre’s name on it.
  • Pierre can use it for his beard.
  • Garnier hates Jules.

What Frieda and Sabina Saw

Frieda and Sabina describe the man that they saw on the rooftops of the city. The company now realizes how their enemies have been able to send word ahead of the pilgrimage so quickly. 

The company also knows that the cult that has dogged their every step has plans for Turin, and they vow to be on their guard against attack.

Several of the company remain awake to watch the streets just in case the Chaos cult attacks in the night. Renee stares off in the direction of the herbalist shop of ill-repute, as she fears reprisals from that direction. Nothing happens, though, and the night passes uneventfully.

The Shroud of King Giles

Renee and Maurice step out early to pick up their poisons. The transaction is completed without incident, though Maurice notices that the herbalist may have kept back some of the preparation made with the Paix herbs for themselves.

They rejoin the rest of the company and the pilgrims in the inn and share in a hearty breakfast. During breakfast, Jules comments that Jim “looks different” and asks him what he did to change his appearance. Jim, with freshly combed hair, looks increasingly awkward.

The company then departs, heading across one of Turin’s massive bridges to reach the Basilica of Myrmidia. The temple is a massive, elaborately decorated building, heavily guarded by Empire mercenaries armed with halberds and dressed in gaudy uniforms. Each mercenary wears a heavily starched ruff collar.

The company joins a long line of pilgrims who are admitted in groups into a room behind the temple’s main altar. After waiting for quite a while, the company and the pilgrims are at last escorted into the room, and into the presence of the Shroud itself.

The Shroud of King Gilles rests upon a large table, beneath a wavy sheet of glass. It bears a representation of the face and body of King Gilles, though whether this was impregnated upon the shroud from the man himself, or whether it was painted on after the fact is impossible to determine.

The room itself is beautiful and sumptuously decorated. Numerous arms and pieces of armor, all made of copper and all, curiously, left to fade to a green patina, are hung upon the walls.

The mercenary guards in this room proceed to recite the rules of behavior while in the presence of the Shroud to the pilgrims and the company. Sir Henri raises the guards’ ire by questioning the rules and asking to speak to the bishop, much to Garnier’s astonishment. The situation is quickly diffused when the priestess from the previous evening arrives on the scene and confirms that the bishop is ready to meet with Sir Henri.

Bishop Isidore of Turin

GARNIER: I should have bought a ruff!

The bishop appears from his office, which is built just off of the room that houses the Shroud of King Gilles. The bishop is a kindly, bearded older man who also wears a neck ruff. Garnier quietly resolves to buy a neck ruff at the earliest possibility.

The bishop calls Henri the innkeeper over and explains the boon that Sir Henri asked for on his behalf. He permits Henri the innkeeper to touch the glass covering the Shroud, which no one else is permitted to do. The bishop regrets that he cannot allow Henri to touch the Shroud itself for practical reasons.

Henri the innkeeper is overcome by Sir Henri’s generosity and by the bishop’s grace. He gently lays his hand on the glass, to the delight of all. There is thunderous applause from the company and the other pilgrims. It is a very nice moment.

As the pilgrims begin to depart from the presence of the Shroud, the bishop asks Sir Henri about the monk he has been asked to interrogate/interview. Sir Henri and the other members of the company introduce the bishop to Geoffrey, as well as to Rauchamp and Guilbald. The company tries to keep their explanation of Geoffrey’s crimes as brief as possible, but the monk’s history is a convoluted affair, and they mention the Ruinous Powers multiple times.

The bishop insists that Geoffrey, the pardoner and the summoner, and the company come into his office to discuss the monk’s fate in greater detail.

The Secret

With everyone crammed into Bishop Isidore’s office, the “trial” begins. The company gives as complete an account of their journey as they can, explaining the “wishing book,” its powers, and the company’s frequent encounters with the Ruinous Powers. Various letters and other pieces of evidence are shown to the bishop, who becomes increasingly concerned.

The bishop says that he must meditate on Geoffrey’s crimes so that he can pass proper sentencing. He does say that the monk’s contrition and willingness to cooperate does him credit, and will be taken into consideration. The bishop orders Rauchamp and Guilbald to escort Geoffrey to the penitent cells in the lower levels of the basilica, until a decision is reached.

The bishop then orders his guards and the priestess to leave him and guard the outer door. This command is met with some concern by the guards, who insist that it is their duty to attend upon and protect the bishop. The bishop says that he understands this, of course, but orders them to leave anyway.

Once the guards and the priestess have departed, Bishop Isidore tells the company a secret that, up until this point, only the bishops of Turin know. He explains that every child in Bretonnia knows that, in the kingdom’s darkest hour, King Gilles will return to save it. What almost no one knows is that it is through the Shroud of Gilles that the once and future king will return. If it is destroyed, Gilles cannot cross back from the lands of the dead, and Bretonnia shall be forever doomed.

He goes on to say that, based on the company’s reports and Geoffrey’s testimony, that he fears that Chaos Undivided plans to attack Turin to destroy the Shroud. The bishop asks if the company will lend their skills and their strength to the defense of Turin and the Shroud.

Sir Henri says that he has already promised to serve the bishop, if needed. Sir Jean-Marc, not to be outdone, also pledges his troth as a knight of Bretonnia. One by one, the company offers their services, until all have promised to defend Turin and the Shroud with their lives.

Bishop Isidore says that the company should prepare to fight the forces of Chaos, and that he has one thing more to give them. He leads them out into the room where the Shroud is on display, shoos away his guards, and takes down a copper sword from off the wall. The bishop explains that this blade is none other than Loren, an enchanted blade once wielded by Gilles. He presents it to the company, saying that they will likely need its strength in routing the forces of Chaos.

After some discussion, Sir Jean-Marc is given the honor of wielding Loren, the Verdant Blade. 

Loren, the Verdant Blade


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