Part 17 - Monastery of Madness

The group travelled for four days to the city of Orleans, on the trail of the Lord of Misrule and the mummers. At Orleans, they learned that the mummers were headed to St. Nazair to book passage on a ship. Before they left however, they were hired to perform at a nearby monastery called Saint Mesmin de Micy.

They travelled to the monastery and spoke to the gate keepers. The guards confirmed that the mummers had recently been there. They then asked to see the abbot. After handing over their weapons to the guards, they were allowed inside.

They were escorted about the grounds by hosteller Julian, a man who took great pride in the monastery, and spoke as if he ran the place. He placed them in guest houses, where they noticed that one of the houses was locked down.

Other guests at the monetary included a merchants daughter named Paula and her nurse maid, a vagabond named Iaocaul, and an ink maker named Theobald. The first two were there for healing, the latter on business.

Gregor had an audience with Abbott Gerin. Gerin was impatient at first, but when Gregor revealed his membership in the Order of Bitter Piety, the abbot admitted that he had a crisis on his hands.

A hermit by the name of James spent most of his life living in a barrel the middle of the river. Once a year he would leave and make a pilgrimage that lasted a couple of months. His first stop was always the monastery. He had the power to heal and was seen as somewhat of a living saint. The day after the mummers left, James was found in his guest house, apparently having been drown his water basin. Abbott Gerin asked Gregor to investigate the matter quietly.

They immediately suspected that James was a Hermit or Fool Nephilim. Either case, it was unsure why anyone would have him killed. They asked and learned that James did attend the play put on by the mummers, and seemed none too pleased about it. Perhaps he was aware of the Lord of Misrule’s presence. The mummers had left prior to James’ death, so they were not directly responsible.

They spent the next day speaking with the various monks and attendants at the monastery. Abbot Gerin was the adopted son of a noble, who was appointed to his position by the Bishop for reasons unknown. Rumor had it that it he was actually the Bishop’s son.

Almoner Ogier was responsible for helping the poor. He was a constant complainer and did his best to avoid any real work.

The cellarer Thomas was in charge of the abbey’s kitchens and cellars, especially the brewery and it was plain to see that Thomas took special pride in that area of his responsibility. Thomas was grotesquely fat and due to a ‘stomach complaint’, he maintained that he was unable to drink water, and so had to rely on huge quantities of beer and wine to improve his digestion. Thomas had been seen arguing with James the night before the hermit’s death.

Hosteller Julien cared for pilgrims and guests of the monastery, a role he did not care for. He believed he would be the next abbot but instead the Gerin was given the title instead. Julien despised Abbot Gerin and believed that under his own leadership he could bring the monastery back to greatness.

Michael, the master of the monastery’s house of healing was a former warrior, a Norman who lost an eye in battle and was forced to retire. His skills at healing were learned on the battlefield, so his bedside manner was rather lacking. He and Julien were close friends. Michel’s head wound did more than take his eye – he suffered from tremendous fits of rage, where the desire to destroy and to maim would overwhelm him.

The precentor, Urian, was the master of the scriptorium and the keeper of the library. Saint-Mesmin’s library was a large and prestigious one so this was a very important role there. Urian was a vain monk; his robes may have been made of simple cloth but he wore golden rings and collars of rich fur. He said that the chief Mummer visited the library and looked through a text called the Scrolls of Odesa

Saint-Mesmin’s treasury contained a number of important relics, which were in the care of the charismatic young sacristan, Helier. Pilgrims came from distant lands to see these relics – in some cases, young, impressionable female pilgrims, who were sometimes willing to pay a special price to see certain holy items that are not normally displayed to visitors. He was seen flirting with Paula and her nurse maid. Helier was a close friend of the abbot; the two hunted together regularly and were of a like mind on most topics.

All were present at the performance of the mummers. They also agreed that the performance was terrible, including the two children who clearly had no acting experience. The Nephilim realized the insidious nature of the Lord of Misrule’s influence. The behavior of the seven monks had begun to represent the seven deadly sins.

The monk with the shakiest story was Helier, who lied about being with one the women. They figured if a monk would falsely claim to have slept with a woman, he must have been covering for something much worse. After a harsh interrogation, he admitted to killing James. James had grown suspicious of Gerin, and Helier feared he would reveal Gerin’s secret that he was the Bishop’s son. Where Helier was likely mistaken was James’ concern had nothing to with Gerin’s lineage, but the affect the chief mummer was having on him.

Having solved the mystery, the Nephilim studied the Odesa scrolls. Within they found a description by the author regarding the location of the Tomb of Solomon. Could this be the Lord of Misrule’s ultimate destination? It was time to return to the road and find out.

Part 17 - Monastery of Madness

Nephilim sisensee