Oliver D. Bernuetz's Stories
Flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood
(Editor's Note: This curious account was discovered among the effects inside the stomach of a large dragonsnail. Obviously from the tone and content it is set somewhere in the West of Genertela but the exact location is impossible to determine. It is also impossible to know who any of the people mentioned are though we are doing research to see if we can locate any records that mention such a disaster. How the document ended up inside a dragonsnail is curious and remains a mystery).
This is my report on the investigation into the mysterious events surrounding the renegade wizard _______________. As you well know the church had long been receiving complaints and reports on the activities of said wizard. A unit of church inquisitors had been sent to investigate said wizard. The unit was split evenly between knights-inquisitors and wizard-inquisitors and was authorized to take whatever proper action was required depending on what the investigation discovered. This unit was considered to be more than equal to the challenge of investigating one wizard being composed of many seasoned veterans with ample experience in uncovering heresy and incorrect behavior. This assumption turned out to be false, as this unit has not subsequently been heard from again. The obvious conclusion being that the members have either defected, very unlikely, or have all attained Solace, whether willingly or not.
After ample time had been allowed to make certain this unit was not going to return it was decided to send another unit to investigate. I was appointed to lead said unit and was authorized to collect a force of knights-inquisitors and wizard-inquisitors that was three times the size of the previous force. This was considered to be a wise precaution considering the disappearance of the previous unit. Having collected my forces and the required support staff and supplies we set off. We made speedy progress until we got within two days ride of the Village of __________________ were the wizard lived. At that point we slowed down in order to make a more thorough investigation.
We stopped at the last village before __________________ and made camp. This village had been under the administration of another wizard who unfortunately had joined the first inquisitional enquiry group and had subsequently not been seen again. We discovered this when I made our presence known to what passed for the local authorities. This proved to be a fat village headman named __________________. I informed him of the nature of our mission and told him in no uncertain terms that we expected full co-operation. I would have appropriated his house and daughter as is my right except for the sad state of both. Instead we camped outside the village in tents by preference and left the locals alone. The wizards protected our camp with both the standard magical protections plus the extra level of protection the nature of the case demanded. I sent the sergeants out to do some investigations.
The first thing we noticed was that there were more peasants present than the land warranted. Questioning uncovered the fact that many of these peasants were recent immigrants from the neighbouring village where the wizard resided. I had one of these peasants summoned at random for questioning. This peasant was skinny and terrified of my presence but I calmed him by telling him he had nothing to fear as long as he told the truth before God. First off I asked him why he had abandoned his land, against all the laws of Church and King, and moved to this village? After he had regained consciousness I put this question to him again. He managed to force out that he had fled because of the disaster. I asked him what disaster did he mean. He mumbled something about fire and destruction and losing patience with this I had him put to the question.
After half an hour of this I recommenced the questioning. As can be imagined his attitude and demeanor were both much improved by his stint under the questioners and I got answers much faster this time.
When questioned again about this disaster business he stated that three weeks ago he had been "tupping" his wife when their hut was shaken by some occurrence. The peasant had recovered his composure enough to venture some remark, which he no doubt thought was comical about the "earth moving". I had one of the questioners slap the peasant to forestall any further some comments and after some blubbering he continued. When the hut shook they also heard a horrible noise from outside. They desisted their activities and looked outside their hut. They had obviously missed the disaster itself but were horrified to see its after effects. The peasant claimed that all of the countryside from just shy of their hut as far as they could see in the direction of the wizards tower had been scorched and burnt. Nothing remained alive in the area. This seemed unlikely but rather than have the peasant questioned some more I decided to see if anyone would verify this tale.
Additional questioning did indeed verify this claim which astounded us. We discovered that many of the peasants had fled from the now burnt area when the first inquisitional unit had arrived. They fled because of the intensity of the magical fight that had broken out soon after the leader of the unit had confronted the wizard. Their descriptions of this battle did not confirm at all with a conflict between a lone wizard of known ability and an entire unit of inquisitors but we marked that down to the ignorance of peasants. Leaving all their possessions behind they had left the area. Soon after they had fled the occurence the amorous peasant had described had occured. With no exception they had all been knocked to the ground by the blast and after recovering had fled to this village. They said that they had realized that they were the only survivors but being peasants none of them was of course was brave enough to investigate.
We immediately decamped and made haste in the direction of the wizards tower. We discovered to our horror that the peasant's report was true. The land not far from the village we were staying at had indeed been devasted by some fiery event. Magical analysis determined this occurence was indeed magical in origin. The wizard-inquisitors were so appalled by the implications of this that they insisted on delaying our progress long enough to recast the required spells several times. Once they had confirmed the disaster had been magical in nature I decided that we would pull back and do some more questioning of the peasants who had fled the immediate area.
We regained our camp and settled in for the night. The uneasiness of the wizard-inquisitors spread to the rest of the men and I was forced to order severe discipline to keep spirits up. The hymns, prayers and scourgings did the trick and spirits indeed went up. The next morning we set to our questioning with renewed zeal. All the emigrants from the renegade wizard's demense were collected and put to the question. We discovered some puzzling facts. The wizard in question was said to be a strict but relatively benign ruler. He made few demands on them and the only negative thing they repeated about him was his laxness when it came to Scripture. It was repeated over and over again that he seemed mostly uninterested in Churchly matters which is of course more than serious enough to have him tried and executed. The peasants being ignorant of his magical activities and experiments couldn't comment on any of that so we remained woefully ignorant of that. His only other peculiarity was his insistence on exercising his right of jus primae noctis.
Though I would not dare insult your holiness by suggesting that you are in any way ignorant of worldly matters I will quickly remind you that this is the right of a lord to share the wedding bed of any peasants in his demense. Apparently the wizard was extremely keen on exercising this priviliege and did so on each and every occassion of a wedding ever since he had come to rule over the village 10 years prior. He also took into his household any issue that resulted from this exercise. I asked one of the peasant woman if this didn't mean that his household wasn't too large to manage. She stated that the his household wasn't any larger than the previous wizard's had been. He had never exercised this right, not that it is ever a normal occurence to take any such issue into your household. I asked where all the issue had gone and she couldn't answer me. She seemed uneasy at the question but even enthusiastic questioning couldn't get anything more specific than uneasy feelings out of her. I also questioned another younger woman who had actually experienced this exercise and she stated, and I quote, "That he weren't none too interested in her. He just done his business all clumsy like and then left." Nine months later the wizard came around to collect the baby and the woman never saw the girl again.
This piece of information was very curious but didn't seem to mean anything. I asked the wizard-inquisitors what this could mean but they couldn't give me a answer. I sensed that somehow though they had been rendered even more uneasy by this bit of news but they refused to share their misgivings. We stayed the night and the next day I personally led the blessing rituals. We refreshed all the blessings we had and received special blessings at the village chapel. Thus emboldened we set forth again for the devastated area. We were stunned by the extent of the devastation. The force of the fire had seared the very ground itself. Nothing remained standing, not tree, brook or building. All had been burnt to the ground. Far in the distance we could see the wizard's tower but this seemed to be the only thing left.
We cautiously approached the tower and set up a new camp in the ashes of the surrounding village. The wizard inquisitors began their investigations and determined that the defenses on the tower were completely out of line with the wizard's reported strength. They reported that they would be able to take the wardings down given time but the previous standard sized unit would have been incapable of doing so. They wouldn't speculate as to how this wizard would have gotten the power to do this. While they did this I sent out a scouting unit. They reported universal devastation and announced that the very stone of the tower had been glazed by the heat of the blast. We set down for an uneasy night's sleep. The next morning, after both our protective wards and those on the towr had been taken down we slowly approached it. There was no door in the opening any longer. With every magical and mundane precaution possible we entered the tower, or rather myself and a handful of the more powerful wizard-inquisitors entered the tower. The rest we left outside. The tower inside was lifeless and everything flammable was gone. We found nothing inside, other than melted blobs of iron which must have come from the investigating knights-inquisitors, until we arrived at the top of the tower. After determing that there was no magic present we cautiously entered.
There we found the body of the wizard we had been sent to investigate slumped over a singed table. The cause of death we could not determine. Before him was some sort of journal, many of the pages of which were burnt or charred beyond reading. The only other things present were the near mummified bodies of well over a dozen infants and small children of all ages and both sexes. I instructed that these be taken outside and buried. For myself I took the journal after it was proclaimed safe and we retreated. After the corpses had been buried and blessed we pulled up camp and retreated out of the burnt area. Of the journal's contents that I could read I will not say. The wizard was clearly mad and impious. The journal and our investigations made clear that the wizard himself had been responsible for the enormous fireball. Of the precise mechanisms by which he achieved this stupendous effect I will not comment for fear that someone else will attempt to duplicate his efforts. I put the strictest geas on all of the wizard- and knight-inquisitors that they never speak of what we found. The tower itself I ordered filled with sand and subjected to such heat that it be turned to glass with the wizard's corpse inside. I myself burnt the impious journal and then destroyed the ashes. All that I will share with you in strictest confidence of its contents is the following passage:
There was more to the magical process than the simple slaughter of innocents but I would as soon pluck the eyes from my head as to commit such information to paper. I hope that I have not outreached my authority with my actions but I could not in good conscience let such knowledge survive. I will soon subject myself to the same deadly geas my men have already been subjected to and I implore you to similarily do so yourself.
I remain your obedient servant.
Last updated September 26, 2016
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