The Investigation

View previous topic View next topic Go down

The Investigation

Post by Grand Auvergne on Sun Oct 30, 2016 6:29 am

Cardinal Benoit and Xavier Dumon

Xavier entered the private mansion of the cardinal of Auvergne, Benoit. At the door, the guards, all Auvergnats loyal to the cardinal alone, watched over the streets, visible or not. But they did not concerned Xavier much more than that since he knew another entrance, the servants' door.

Nobody asked any question, too busy working on the differents task necessary for such a big house to not crumble. Such apathy was common in thoses times and could be a source of troubles since no one but the taskmaster know who he employed and when, leaving the door open to all sort of abuses and, more important, threats for the life of the mansion's master. But for peoples who knew where to look at, like Xavier, the kitchen and the servants rooms started to look more like a cobweb for any would-be assassin or spy. For exemple, he saw two domestics discussing at the other end of the room, with worried faces. A common sight, if it was not for the way their bodies talked, telling Xavier one of thoses two, the one with no arched back and a grave, serious expression, was not a servant but a guard in "common" clothes. While the other was certainly a servant payed to tell everything strange he see during his service. Certainly without knowing who his true employer even was.

Xavier knew. After all, it was him who planified the security of this mansion. His job's description was simple : He was here to make sure no corner of Rome -and beyond- is out of the reach of his master, the Cardinal Benoit.

The two men were friends since they met when they were much, much more younger. Xavier was only the son of two merchants, desiring to assure for their son a futur in troubled times. Benoit was the son of a local lord, intelligent and dedicated to his studies since he was promised to become a Bishop. Thoses two since became far more than what anyone could have predicted.

But enough with the past. Xavier wasn't late but it would have been out of his character to not arrive with at the very least 5 minutes sooner than asked. Just a matter of principles.

He entered in the library and took the time to appreciate the atmosphere. It beared the mark of the Cardinal, simple and efficient. Everything was of an exceptional quality but nothing was outstandish or impressive only because it was golden. the room's layout has been thought thouroughly and all space avaible was used for the shelf and the precious books they supported. Contrasting with this simplicity was one man, reading in one of the chair at his disposition, all in red from his head to his toes, making its identity obvious.

"Your Eminence." Saluted Xavier.

"Ah ! You're finally here ! I expected you an hour ago !" Said the Cardinal, smiling. As said, Xavier wasn't late by any mean, but sometime Benoit loved to joke a bit.

"So, why you asked me to come so quickly ?" Asked Xavier.

"Well, you see, since we're in Rome, I don't have as much trustworthy agent as I used too. And there is a...problem I have right now, that ask for someone in whom I can have my complete trust."

"It is about the Pope isn't it ?"

Bernard noded. "Is it this obvious ?"

"Just because you and your cardinals made some declarations don't stop the peoples from talking."

"Well, I wish I could. But anyway, I have a mission for you. The rumours, at least some of them, are true. The Pope is missing. Just like that. All that was left of him was his clothes. Disappeared into thin air into the night ! Unbielievable, isn't it ?"

Xavier noded, seeing very well what Benoit will ask of him. The Cardinal continued, all traces of friendliness gone, replaced by graveness and cold, death glare.

"Someone is messing with the Church, Xavier. It may be the Greeks, the Jews or even the Pope himself ! We don't know anything about this story. There was no ransom asked, no claim, not even someone bragging about it in a shaddy tavern after too many ales ! We don't know anything and it needs to change."

He then looked directly at Xavier and droped a purse full of golden coins.

"Make it change."

Xavier took the purse and bowed before the Cardinal. A sign of his hand and the agent was already gone, in search of the Pope.

Of course, Xavier Dumon knew very well the little strings : be as discret as possible, don't be an obvious agent of the Church (and of the Cardinal Benoit in peticular, he could perfectly pretend to be at the service of another Cardinal if he wanted), using falses names as much as possible and so on. Benoit didn't need to remember him of such details because, after all it was his job.

And he had a Pope to find.
avatar
Grand Auvergne

Posts : 180
Join date : 2016-09-17

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: The Investigation

Post by Grand Auvergne on Sun Oct 30, 2016 10:31 am

Xavier Dumon :

Xavier put the key into the locket of the massive door of the Papal's suites. Its access was strictly restricted while the Pope was in "vacation" and there should have been at least two guards before the doors. But a little "error" in the guards' rounds, gently orchestrated by Benoit, meant that, for the day, no one was watching over the appartment of the Pope.

If Xavier came here and not somewhere else, is because when you don't have a clue, you go where it all started. He couldn't get a list of all thoses who came here before him since the Pope dissapeared, and he hoped no one changed to much things.

The first thing he did was to check the windows. If any locks had been saboted, a glass broken, if the rooms weren't as high from the ground to start with or if the wall offered any obvious climbing hold. He then check the room where the Pope dissapeared, searching for even the smallest of clew. Once that done, he watched for anything missing, with the help of a list of the suites' furnitures that he did obtain for once, and if it was anything of matter or strange. All in all, Xavier turned all he could upside down, but taking care to put everything back to its place once he was done. Discretion, after all, was still one of his priorities.

No matter the results, he was gone before the guards finally returned to their posts, asking themselves what was going on in the Cardinals' heads to change like that the order of the day and, only in whispers, if it wasn't the whole Church that was going crazy.
avatar
Grand Auvergne

Posts : 180
Join date : 2016-09-17

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: The Investigation

Post by House of Judah on Sun Nov 06, 2016 9:16 pm

The windows were undamaged, their glass whole and their locks unforced. Hand holds aplenty on the wall if one were so inclined, but there was nothing to suggest that any had ascended or descended from this path.

The room remained undisturbed since the hour that His Holiness had been discovered to be missing. The sleeping robes remained neatly lain upon the bed, the bed's dressings all pulled up tight. There was nothing to be found beneath the cushions as Xavier moved them from their arrangement. Nothing could be found missing from among the robes and jewels worn by the Pope. All was in its place.

Nor was anything missing from the study that stood beside the bedroom. The old map of the Roman Empire stood upon the wall as it had under Basil I's predecessor. Across the various tables were numerous texts of various subjects: Holy Scripture, poetry, ledgers of Church finances.

In all, the rooms held almost no mark of Basil I. Perhaps a small amount more humble than the previous Pope, but otherwise unchanged. Basil had hung no trophy upon the wall. No map of his beloved Jerusalem adorned it either. No journal sat upon the shelf with his other books. The only thing to say that he himself and no other had been here was only the witness of others.
avatar
House of Judah

Posts : 331
Join date : 2015-11-28

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: The Investigation

Post by Grand Auvergne on Mon Nov 07, 2016 6:51 am

Before leaving, in a last desesperate attempt to get anything to report, Xavier would have checked the sleeping robes and the wardrobes. For the latter, he kept an eye open for anything suspicious by its absence, such has winterclothing or a traveling cape, among other.

Once all was done, Xavier would go to another lodge, but far less comfortable : the camerlengo's room. He checked to see if the camerlengo was there and, once he was sure the room was empty and the camerlengo too far away to be a bother, he used the other key Benoit managed to get him : the skeleton key for most of the Palace. This time, he did not investigate the room but watched for something in peticular, the list of the palace's servants and their shifts. Notably, who should have attended to the Pope the night before its disparition.
avatar
Grand Auvergne

Posts : 180
Join date : 2016-09-17

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: The Investigation

Post by House of Judah on Mon Nov 14, 2016 3:20 am

The office contained many of the logs of the day to day operations of the Papal Palace. Gate logs detailed all the comings and goings from Saint Peter's. The kitchen ledger tracked the usage, discarding and replenishment of the larders and store rooms. The log of attendants showed that, as with most days, the Bishop of Rome had been attended to by Fr. Callisto di Piacenza for most of the day. Ippolito Acconci had cleaned the rooms earlier in the day while the Pope had seen to his duties. Tammaro Ardizzone had been tasked with the feeding and stoking the fire until the Pope had retired to his bed chamber near the eighth hour past noon. No other attendant was recorded until the morning when Fr. di Piacenza had gone to wake the Pope and discovered the pontiff missing.
avatar
House of Judah

Posts : 331
Join date : 2015-11-28

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: The Investigation

Post by Grand Auvergne on Mon Nov 14, 2016 2:53 pm

Xavier checked for anything strange in the Gat logs, if only because he didn't wanted to miss anything to big.

But what really interested him was the name of the peoples who were the last to have seen the Pope or to enter his room. Fr.Callisto di Piacenza, Ippolito Acconci and Tammaro Ardizzone. He took great care to memorize thoses names, using what the monks taught him when he was young. once he was certain that he could not forget them, he spent a little more time verifying the differents logs, however boring and normal they seemed, as to see if anything in the preceding days was reported as out of the ordinary.

Once he was done, Xavier took care that all was returned to its original place and that the door was locked as it was when he entered and then he leaved. His fear was that, if he had taken too much time, the Camerlengo would have come back at an unopportune moment.

Thanking God for giving his servant in the Vatican such passion for the details, something few other mansion, palace or castle anywhere else in the world shared, Xavier spent the following week watching for the three man. Where they lived, their friends, and so on. Always if possible from afar, disguised as some perfectly unremarkable normal citizen of Rome, in the middle of the crowd or behind walls.

But even so, it would have been too much for one man. Using the funds the Cardinal Benoit, he hired some of the beggars to follow them too, as to be sure there wasn't anything he could miss about the daily life of his suspects.
The beggars never knew really who exactly they were watching nor why, nor who payed them. But they were payed and that what mattered. In fact, they didn't knew there was more than one of them that was on the job. Compartimentalisation was the only way, has Xavier's old master always said, to do a sucessfull web of spies.

And so did Xavier spent the few following weeks, learning the life of his "targets", taking reports from his agents and riding the documents that the Cardinal Benoit managed to transmit him.
avatar
Grand Auvergne

Posts : 180
Join date : 2016-09-17

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: The Investigation

Post by House of Judah on Sat Nov 26, 2016 7:31 am

The sequence from the gate log for the day of the disappearance read as follows. In the earliest hours the watch was changed out. Tammaro Ardizzone arrived. A bit before dawn came carts delivering dairy, flour, eggs, meats, wine, wood (the last received by Tammaro Ardizzone). After dawn heralded the arrival of cardinals. Comings and goings of various notables and servants in the Papal palace. Mid morning a changing of the guard. More comings and goings. The arrival of a gift from some far away count in Francia. The departure of Fr. Callisto di Piacenza. The return of Fr. Callisto di Piacenza accompanied by Ab. Alessandra Agricola. The arrival of a messenger from an abbot in the Holy Land. The arrival of Ippolito Acconci. A change of the guard at midday. Further comings and going of servants and notables. The departure of Tammaro Ardizzone. The return of Tammaro Ardizzone. The departure of Ippolito Acconci. The departure of Fr. Callisto di Piacenza with Ab. Alessandra Agricola. The return of Fr. Callisto di Piacenza. A change of the guard in the late afternoon. Further comings and goings. The departure of a return message to the abbot in the Holy Land. A change of the guard in the evening. The arrival and departure of a cart delivering flour. The departure of Tammaro Ardizzone. A change of the guard at mid-night.



“Father Callisto di Piacenza has been cloistered with senior priests since the disappearance. He has not left the chambers they are keeping him in once. Meals are brought to them three times a day. All other hours are spent in prayer. He says that the Pope has been raptured to Heaven. His belief seems genuine.”



“Ippolito is simple minded. He lives with his mother. He comes to the papal palace daily to clean the Pope’s rooms. Or at least did before a few weeks ago. He’s quite distraught that they won’t let him clean the Pope’s chambers. He’s quite concerned that the Pope’s rooms will be dirty. Seems the church has still been paying him even though they are not using his service. Strange enough, though it has given him time to run errands for his mother.”



“Tammaro Ardizzone resides in the papal palace. He tends fires in every corner of it. In the middle of the day, when the fires are not needed, he runs errands, mostly placing orders for supplies, especially wood for his fires. In the evening after everyone goes to rest he leaves the palace and spends a few hours drinking at a tavern. He’s been saying that he saw no evidence of preparation or departure for Tivoli. Look, the goings on of those above me is no business of mine, you hear? And I don’t care if the Pope is in Rome, Tivoli or Babylon. I know when things are going on that are best left unsaid and forgotten by folk like myself. A few coins to see me to food and drink. All I want.”
avatar
House of Judah

Posts : 331
Join date : 2015-11-28

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: The Investigation

Post by Grand Auvergne on Sat Nov 26, 2016 9:36 pm

The strength of Callisto's faith trully impressed Xavier who, despite having lived most of is life with religious men, never did once see such honest belief. Which also made him dubious about it. The Cardinal's agent made some preparations for at least two of thoses senior priests kept an eye on him on his behalf, even if he made sure they never knew about him. A guard would be the intermediary between he and them. He choose for this one of the least moral guard of the palace, one who would never ask question about who this mysterious hooded man was as long as this mysterious hooded man payed him well. Unknown to this guard, Xavier had already chosed the tree under which he would forever lay, for Xavier is not the only mysterious hooded man such a guard could take bribe from.

Then came the question of Ippolito. He seemed to much of a good, honest and, frankly, idiot man to be part of the whole affair. He could understand why the Camerlengo choose such a man to attend to the Pope's lodge. Simplicity is a rock on which you can build whole houses without fear of them breaking down. But then, there was the fact he was payed to do nothing now, which could either be part of the plan of the Cardinals to do like nothing as changed, or something more fishy. Xavier sent a letter to the Cardinal Benoit, so he could know if it was all planned, or if someone in the Church is making some money on the back of a servant or something completely different. He also advised the Cardinal to look for Alessandra Agricola and to search for any piece of information about this strangely recurring name. Just to be safe, he also advise to check what was this message to the Holy Land that was answered in a day. Even if it was of common knowledge that the Pope saw this realm as his real home, it would do no harm to check what asked for such urgency, even if none of the Cardinals seemed to have been informed.

And finally, Tammaro Ardizzone. Smart enough to understand he is but a mere pebble lost in events that were completely beyond him and -but that he didn't knew- the Cardinals, and that he should keep quite about it. Yet too dumb to realize he was already talking too much. Alcohol was trully the curse of man : how many great, almost perfect and seemingly unstoppable men Xavier had seen fail, fall and loose it all because of a few drinks.
Anyway, something had to be done and Xavier decided to do it himself. It was at night, when Ardizzone returned home after a long day of work, and before going to the tavern, that he heard the door of his apartment open and be locked and, when he came to see what was going on, was greeted by the tall, slender, shady looking man sitting at his table.

"Ardizzone I presume ?" Said the intruder." please have a sit. Before you ask, who I am doesn't matter. What matter is that you have eyes. Eyes that have seen everything there is to see in this Castle. So, Ardizzone, tell me, what did you see ?"

As he speaked, Xavier let a few silver coins on the table and waited, while his other hand was already around his dagger, just in case Ardizzone's answer was a "no".
avatar
Grand Auvergne

Posts : 180
Join date : 2016-09-17

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: The Investigation

Post by House of Judah on Sat Nov 26, 2016 10:44 pm

Father Callisto di Piacenza

“Oh, thank God. Food,” said the senior priest when the guard arrived. In the corner Father Callisto di Piacenza continued his Latin prayer. “Set it down there. Callisto, come, brother, it is time to eat.”

“No. I have no need of food or water. I must cleanse myself of all impurity. God has called Basilius to his side. I must follow. I am called to continue to tend to God’s servant and to do so I must ensure that God will know that I am his. I need prayer. And confession. Brother, I have been an imperfect Christian/ I have struggled at times with impure thoughts. Vanity and arrogance despite my many imperfections. I have born ill will to my brothers and have lusted for women. I wish for these blemishes to be gone from my soul that I may join our Holy Father at God’s side. Please take my confession.” The senior priest sighed and looked to the guard.

“Leave the food. I’ll eat it later. For now, please, leave us that I may take his confession in privacy.”



Tammaro Ardizzone

"You be talking about the Pope then. Look, alls I knows is what I sees, understand? I looks after my stock of wood for the fires. I recieves a wagon of it every morning when all the other stocks arrive. I goes about my business, tending the fires, see? And going about the palace, I sees no preparation to go to Tivoli, but that don'ts mean no one went to Tivoli. Just means I don't sees it, you understand? Now, I was preparing to go out to tavern that night, see? And I didn’t takes much notice of nothing, but I don’ts remembers any preparations being mades and I don’ts remembers any of the horses or carts being gones from the stable. Maybe they weres or maybe there weren’ts. But thats alls I knows, you hears me?”



A brief investigation by Cardinal Benoit easily revealed the source of continued payment to the simpleton, Ippolito Acconci. It was ordered by Cardinal Amos of Antioch, another of the Judean priests who seemed at the heart of Rome these days.

The identity of Abbess Alessandra Agricola, the Mother Superior of a nunnery just outside Rome, was already well known to the Cardinal, though why she would have come to the papal palace that day was a mystery. It is known that the abbess was favored by Basilius.

The message from the Holy Land, whatever it was, remained an enigma. Besides the record of the messenger coming and going, little else was known of it. The servant who saw the messenger to the Pope’s study and back to the gates was of little use, having not seen the message itself and what conversation they had in the Pope’s office was in the Jewish tongue.
avatar
House of Judah

Posts : 331
Join date : 2015-11-28

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: The Investigation

Post by Grand Auvergne on Sun Nov 27, 2016 6:54 am

Of course. The stable. Thought Xavier.

The agent smiled, without Ardizzone knowing why. He then left the table, leaving a few coins and a advice about the vertu of silence in the ear of the servant behind him and headed back to the house he had transformed in his "headquarter" for the time of the investigation. He spent the rest of the night sleeping, obviously, but also sending letters and demands to various people of hi knowledge and receiving their answers, notably about the state of the stables, how many horses where missing for a reason or another, and so on. He also received the results of Benoit own little researchs and found it really interessing. He was surprised to see that the pay of Ippolito did not serve to hide some sort of "get rich" scheme, as what the Cardinal Amos pays for the man's "services" was indeed what he recieves. If there was a scheme, it was a well hidden one.

Xavier surprises did not end there. The Abbess was yet another person linked to the Pope in a mysterious way present that day. Well, "mysterious" was not the first word that came to the spy's mind to qualify their relation, but in broad daylight and noted in the register was not how theses kind of things were handled traditionnally. Now, it was a hard task to infiltrate a nunnery, but not an impossible one. A monastery was never that far from a convent and there was always interactions between them, if only because the nuns are the ones doing most of the chores. With a bit of luck, Benoit had already a monk under his payroll that could be used as an intermediary and there must have been a nun to blackmail or willing to be "convert" to the religion of greed, if only because she was part of mankind. If not, Xavier strongly recommended his master to find such characters and to keep them under his payroll for now, who knew when it could come in handy ?

Then, what trully interested Xavier was the message. That the servant couldn't understand what they said was not surprising, but the fact that the messenger was directly sent to the Pope was already a confirmation to how much the matter was important to the Pope. And what was important to the Pope is also important for the rest of Christianity too.

Xavier didn't wanted to be to quick in his conclusion, but he was less and less sure about the true nature of the Pope dissapearance. Or, more exactly, started to see what happened but it seemed...inchoherent. Xavier decided to go check the stables himself and then return to his Master to do his report and share his doubts about this whole affair.
avatar
Grand Auvergne

Posts : 180
Join date : 2016-09-17

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: The Investigation

Post by House of Judah on Tue Dec 06, 2016 5:33 am

Every horse and mule, every cart and carriage belonging to the papal estate, was accounted for. The stable master probably had the most extensive records in the Papal palace that didn’t deal specifically in church finance, and not just those needed for the care of the horses. His records included family histories to put to shame Europe’s finest genealogist, records of care and treatment by physicians, each one a biography of a given horse. A testament to his love, surely.

The nunnery. That was a different matter. With the Abbess Alessandra Agricola favored by the Pope, the sisters were well looked after and wanted for little, and that little was satisfied by the sale of wine from the nunnery’s vineyard. A number of the novices whose families had them placed where they were beyond the reach of suitors until the family had chosen a match (and would clearly never take the vows proper) could have their loyalty purchased by pretty baubles but had no information of worth. There was one, however, Giorgia, who clearly needed no protection from lechers, having the temperament herself. Baubles were appreciated, but she had a longing long not satisfied by the hands her family had moved her away from. To hear her say it, she knew much about the history of the Abbess, and having spent many an evening awake seen some goings on about the abbey, but would have her desires satisfied first. It was to Xavier to determine if the potential information was worth risking the deathly offense of debauching a novice.
avatar
House of Judah

Posts : 331
Join date : 2015-11-28

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: The Investigation

Post by Grand Auvergne on Tue Dec 06, 2016 5:58 pm

That none of the nuns were interested in his offers surprised Xavier. Weren't they in Italy ? He put it on the nature of women and tried to keep himself calm. Not being able to find a proper intermediary and having to do everything himself already bothered him, adding frustration to the lot was not the best to do.

He was quite happy to manage to find one ready to give him information. Less by the price asked. While being in company of women was a pleasure for Xavier, like for any men, being caught with a nun was not. But all things considered it was a very low price for a spy so he at least considered it.

"I will give you what you want, and then you will tell me all you have seen. A fair deal. Wait three nights and I shall return with what you desire."

Maybe to the surprise of the nun, Xavier then leaved. Because while he judged the risks far greater than the reward, he knew peoples that did not had the them values as him and would find such operation to be just exciting. For the following two days, Xavier spent his time analyzing the stabbles registers, and comparing them to the reality, to see if any horse was missing, unacounted for or for any mistakes that could be a clue to follow. When he was not doing so, he contacted all the youngs, fits, pretty, charming dumbs and unfettered nobles to his knowledges in differents manners. During banquets, or at bar, using differents names and alias, he whispered the words of a maiden bored in here prison of a nunnery. An adventure of many dangers but of which the reward was guaranteed. Of the differents candidates, one was ready to prove his manhood in such an exciting manner and without asking too much questions : the young prince Dalmazio Agnesi, of a fairly low house but who's past is one full of romances, conquests, gambling and debts. The perfect man for this.

And so, three nights after she met the mysterious hooded man, Giorgia recieved the visit of another man, better to look at and ready for her. Xavier waited far from the nunnery, and from any possible problem, the return of his "agent". If all had gone right, he would come back the next night to meet Giorgia and to see if she was then ready to uphold her end of the bargain.
avatar
Grand Auvergne

Posts : 180
Join date : 2016-09-17

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: The Investigation

Post by House of Judah on Sat Dec 10, 2016 9:16 pm

It was for the best that Xavier had not decided to pursue the novice himself. Or maybe a testament to the incompetence of his chosen rake. The young Agnesi had been caught in Giorgia’s room and now was awaiting the executioner’s axe while his family desperately pulled every string they could reach to save his life. Giorgia herself was kept in a cell in nunnery under the close and watchful eye of Sister Dania Monte, Abbess Alessandra’s right hand who oversaw discipline at the abbey. According to local legend, Sister Dania had never smiled once in her life, only maintaining that disapproving glare even as a young girl. Her demeanor was of stark difference to the greater warmth of the Abbess.

Giorgia was now beyond reach. If there was any information to be had from the abbey, Xavier would have to find a different way to gain it.
avatar
House of Judah

Posts : 331
Join date : 2015-11-28

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: The Investigation

Post by Grand Auvergne on Sat Dec 10, 2016 11:12 pm

The failure of Dalmazio couldn't be described as a surprise. Xavier was just a bit dissapointed that the possibles informations of Giorgia were lost. But about her incarceration, all that matered to the spymaster was that even if she talked, she wouldn't be able to tell who the mysterious hooded man was and what he trully wanted nor for whom he trully worked.

Since no horses from the papal's stabbles seemed to be missing, Xavier wasn't left with much more options. So, if he couldn't have a Giorgia already in the Nunnery, he would create one. During the next days, he reached for women of diverses status and selected a few.

For the following days, the nunnery recieved many candidates, sometime only one, sometime by groups. Of theses recruits, not all of them were under Xavier's payroll.

But this did not stop him from searching other places. Notably, he checked the stabbles in and out of Rome, searching to know if an old man came to buy an horse. Or, in the bar, if any traveller had seen such a person on the road, maybe with only rags. Only admitting it was his grandfather when pressured and never really explaining this whole "familly buisness".

Xavier was really growing desesperate.
avatar
Grand Auvergne

Posts : 180
Join date : 2016-09-17

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: The Investigation

Post by House of Judah on Mon Dec 12, 2016 10:57 am

"You've been a whore," accused Sister Dania of many of the applicants. Some ran weeping from the severe woman, to which the Abbess gave her right hand her own variation of a disapproving glare. Others ranted and raved at the woman. These were apologized to for the insult and quietly suggested that they may not have the patient temperament a nun requires.

"Though I may have known the touch of man while I remain unmarried," replied one, "I assure you I drew neither coin nor pleasure from the experience. I may have had I willingly accepted the touch, more likely the coin than the pleasure considering the temperament of the man. Now it is said in some circles that I am sullied and no longer a suitable match. An embarrassment to my family. I chose to spare them further turmoil on my part, and do with my life the one thing I can still do. Serve God. I had hoped that this would be a place I could do so. If not, then I shall take my leave and find another location."

"That's quite alright," said the Abbess. "That you have been used so rudely is no barrier to your service to God. I apologize that Sister Dania has treated you harshly, it was undeserved. If it is in your heart to become a nun, then we would be honored to have you among us."

Thusly did Xavier gain an agent among the novices of the abbey.



Unfortunately, Italy is littered with old men, be they beggars or merchants or clergy. Men of all descriptions had passed through the taverns and stables that radiated out from Rome, including a disturbing large number of men wearing rags with curiously large purses. Perhaps if Xavier could narrow his field of selections he may have for stables and taverns, but for now he might as well try to find a grain of white sand in a sea of brown.
avatar
House of Judah

Posts : 331
Join date : 2015-11-28

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: The Investigation

Post by Grand Auvergne on Tue Dec 13, 2016 3:49 pm

Liza Viretti's real history was not very exciting. To the contrary, it was an awfully common one. Playing with boys, maybe a little "pushed" by her familly, merchants, for diverses economical and political reasons, and was throw out the moment her services weren't needed anymore even by her parents. The problem was that, a child came from this, a bastard from no official union. Liza was ready to do everything for her son, even becoming what she was accused to be, when Xavier came to met her.

Xavier was not really in touch with her past when he made her his offer. He just selected some of the most desesperates women he could find, with some easy to press buttons to be able to use them. Some where chosen, few accepted, only Liza managed to enter the nunnery.

Meanwhile, her new employer was trying to make the links between the many somewhat confusing, mostly surprising, clues he had and to forget his desesperate try at the stabbles and taverns of the city. That the Pope leaved his post by himself was an idea that started to make its way in the mind of the spymaster. But why ? He was not expecting a lot from the nunnery, but it was always a good thing to have someone to keep an eye on women who had the favors of a Pope. He needed something more solid. He decided to exploit the lead of the Judean messenger, since it was the only thing he could see that could make the Pope act in such stranges ways. Xavier asked the Cardinal Benoit for every pieces of news and information, from the Holy See "official" spies network or from the even less official ones, about events in the Holy Land that could warrant such attention from the Pope. Meanwhile, he took the time to look more in detail in the gate log for the day of the disparition of the Pope. If it could be trusted, then the messenger was the last person who have seen the Pope. He then realized another anomaly.

Floor as been delivered twice in the same day. The second time late at night, right after a change in the guard.

Xavier mentally slapped himself and sent a letter to his Master, asking for the city's gates logs, to find a cart, empty or with floors leaving Rome after the vespers and before midnight.
avatar
Grand Auvergne

Posts : 180
Join date : 2016-09-17

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: The Investigation

Post by House of Judah on Mon Dec 26, 2016 12:02 pm

Liza Vitteri’s days were filled prayer and chores from early morning till the evening. At most an hour remained at the end of the day before she would return to the cell she shared with another novice by the name of Albina Silvestri, a mouse of a girl. Timid could only go so far to describe her. There was not once that Liza had heard Sister Dania call Albina’s name and not seen the girl flinch and heard her squeak in near panic. Liza was oft woken at least once each night to sound of Albina having a fit in her sleep, seemingly struggling with an unseen attacker, or weeping. If not for the long curfew that Sister Dania enforced, Liza would surely not sleep anywhere near enough to replenish herself for the new day.

In the cell across from Liza’s were two other novices, Margherita Romagnoli and Nadia Lecce. Margherita was one of those silly things placed in a nunnery to protect them from the world. She was clearly not destined for monastic life. More likely she would one day furnish some scion of a noble family with a litter of heirs and try to spend her husband into the poor house in pursuit of pretty baubles. Nadia, imperious and holy, seemed destined to follow in the footsteps of Sister Dania, though she lacked her role model’s full confidence. She would oft command the other novices to continue doing the chores they already were doing and admonished any for silly gossiping. She was fond of quoting scripture at the other girls, or rather misquoting. At times the bookish Albina would raise sufficient strength of will to quietly inform the older girl how the actual verse read, to which Nadia would respond with a withering glare that brought a whimper and retreat from Albina.

The little time that Liza could find to herself before curfew was used exploring the nunnery. She knew the layout well enough to easily make her way around the nunnery and not lose her way. Finally, come the Lord’s Day, she only had to worry about the morning mass. After that, the day was hers. Her employer wanted information. Now was her time to find it.



Events in the Holy Land, as always, were complicated. The Christians of the Holy Land were near even in number in their division between those who cleaved to Rome and those who cleaved to Constantinople, and amongst them were plenty who saw fit to conflict with the others. A constant headache for the King of Judeans, surely testing his patience with his own Edict of Safe Conduct. There was always pressure from the Moslem realms on the Hebrew one, and the Moslems were less hospitable to Christians than the Jews. And there were multitudes of old friends of the Pope in his homeland. The Judean messenger held little indications which of the many major and minor matters that could have drawn the Pope’s attention. All that he could learn was the the messenger came from and returned to a Judean merchant ship which had arrived the day before and departed on the day of the Pope’s disappearance.



The gate logs revealed that at the specified time, a cart laden with empty sacks in the care of Ignazio Pontecorvo and Giulio Cesarino departed Rome from the south-western gate. Working back from that time found Ignazio and Giulio enter the city by the same gate with a cart laden with flour in the late afternoon.
avatar
House of Judah

Posts : 331
Join date : 2015-11-28

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: The Investigation

Post by Grand Auvergne on Mon Jan 02, 2017 7:01 pm

Upon checking the gate logs, Xavier sent a few agents to nearby villages to gather informations about Ignazio Pontecorvo and Giulio Cesarino. He himself took part to the research by taking the south-western road, checking the gate logs for any flour cart in the night of the Pope disparition. He checked the direction they took, if they changed their names or their cargaison.

Meanwhile, Liza started her own investigation. After making sure everyone was sleeping or far away, she sneaked to the Abbess "workplace" at first, making sure she wasn't followed and, once inside the room, swiftly looked for interessing letters or other compromising documents, if there was. If she thought she couldn't stay any longer in the piece, she would sneak outisde, taking care to not let any trace of her passage. Then, if possible, she would go to Sister Dania own "workplace" and would take the same precaution than with the Abbess room.

Whatever Liza obtained, she would go back to her cell after this, preferring to let the search of others places for another day.

avatar
Grand Auvergne

Posts : 180
Join date : 2016-09-17

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: The Investigation

Post by House of Judah on Sun Jan 08, 2017 6:38 am

It did not take long to verify the identity of Ignazio Pontecorvo as the operator of a mill within the Papal estate, and the mill did indeed lie to the south-west of Rome. Giulio Cesarino was a more difficult matter. The most that could be ascertained was that he was relative of some sort to Ignazio, though the exact nature of the relationship was in doubt. Even the tavern keeper who knew Ignazio best was a little vague. “A nephew, I think. Or maybe his uncle. Not entirely sure.” Whatever the relation, Giulio Cesarino was seen wearing the robes of a Benedictine monk with his cowl pulled over his head, and had purportedly returned to his home after a brief visit to his kinsman.



A map like a mural adorned the wall of Abbess’s office, showing the empire of Alexander the Great. Much like the Pope’s, the other walls were mostly used by bookshelves containing voluminous tomes of scholarly works, particularly focusing on theology. No records were stored within the office, nor anything of a personal nature.

Sister Dania’s office, on the other hand, was resplendent with records. A year’s worth of ledgers showing the finances of the abbey, which cross-referenced with ledgers showing the production, sale and spoiling of grapes and wine by the abbey. Another recorded every novice and nun to join the abbey for the past twenty years, including dates of birth and death, family lines, when and why the left the abbey and, most interestingly, a listing of infractions and the punishments handed down. There was additionally a record of records, a tome listing every one of Sister Dania’s records, their normal storage location and, if any were not so stored, who had removed them, when and the time they were returned.
avatar
House of Judah

Posts : 331
Join date : 2015-11-28

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: The Investigation

Post by Grand Auvergne on Fri Jan 13, 2017 12:27 pm

A day later, on the road between the Pontecorvo's house and their mill, Xavier waited for the miller to come, wearing his travel cape, a robe and a stick, giving him the appearance of a travelling Benedictine monk. A bit farther away and hidden behind some bushes, two men that the spymaster took from his master's guard waited, in case something would go wrong. Once the miller appeared, Xavier hailed him.

"Salute to you, my dear ! Would you be kind enough to give me a bit of your time ?"

Xavier started the conversation by asking some meaningless indications about the direction to took to reach a nearby city. Then he would try to let the discussion go its own way, inventing a story to his character, a monk travelling for reasons yet unspecified, and then, once it has gone long enough.

"Do you know of a Giulio Cesarino ?"

Meanwhile, Liza had decided against staying longer than necessary in Sister Diana's room. She returned to her cell, waited for Albina to fall asleep and wrote at the light of the moon her first report to the spymaster, telling him of the documents she found that could be interessing and precizing where to find them. She returned to her bed and waited tomorrow to drop the letter to the designed location, in one of the farest garden of the nunery, hoping someone would quickly come and take it away. This done, the day wasn't over and Liza had a lot to do, living the saint life, making herself look like a perfectly normal nun, unremarquable yet friend with everyone, or at least with most of the others sisters, sharing discussions and maybe sometimes rumours. But all the while, Liza thought of her next move, trying to gather the needed equipment and be ready to return to Diana's room and at last read and copy everything useful to her employer's mysterious goal.
avatar
Grand Auvergne

Posts : 180
Join date : 2016-09-17

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: The Investigation

Post by House of Judah on Wed Jan 18, 2017 5:28 am

Ignazio Pontecorvo

"Ah yes, my kinsman," the miller replied without missing a beat. "He's a monk at il Basilica di San Zeno in Verona. He visited me not long ago and it was my great pleasure to take him with to me Rome on a delivery. He has since returned to Verona. But please, how do you know of my kinsman?"



Margherita Romagnoli

The novice looked over her shoulder at Sister Dania who watched the novices as they went about their chores. Her eyes were narrow as always, critically assessing the work being performed by her charges. Margherita could not help rolling her eyes. Hers was a great family of the Romagna and the menial chores she was assigned were well beneath her status. Still, while her father left her to rot in this convent as he went about choosing her future husband she had little choice but to take part in them. Yet she was not without her entertainment. Causing frustrations for Nadia was a constant source of amusement and Albina would flush beautifully at the bawdy stories she told.

A much greater entertainment, however, was available if she could only find a way to do so. A joust, complete with fair knights doing combat was in the promising and Margherita wanted very much to attend. She considered her possible allies in the venture. Many of the novices would no doubt want to attend as well, but alas they would only make more easier her discovery. Nadia would, of course, run to Sister Dania immediately. Albina, bless her heart, could most likely keep a secret but would not have the fortitude to assist in such adventure. Liza... Liza. Liza was discreet, intelligent and Margherita often had the least idea where to find her. Liza would be an adequate ally. Margherita smiled. She moved to where Liza was working in the garden.

"Hi Liza. You're looking well today. I was wondering," she said as she leaned in close, "how would you like to see some handsome knights battling for honor and glory?"
avatar
House of Judah

Posts : 331
Join date : 2015-11-28

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: The Investigation

Post by Grand Auvergne on Sun Jan 22, 2017 9:04 pm

"Ah, yes, how I first met your "kinsman", well, it was quite a long time ago when..." Then, Xavier kept talking of imaginary stories, without ever giving a real date or mentioning any location more precise than "at the monastery" or "on a road". After what he excused himself and left Ignazio to his work, before joigning his guards and returning to Rome, to plan his next move, maybe to Verona, and to see if anything came from the Nunery.

Meanwhile, at the Nunery in question, Liza was working. The soil, with her hands, but also for Xavier, with her brain. She was thinking about how to get her hand on Sister Diana's precious documents, notably the finances records, when she was interupted by another sister coming suspiciously close to her. Liza didn't knew much of Mergherita and was surprised when she bluntly asked her about coming with her to, she imagined, some joust in the city. She first thought of the word "no", but another part of her brain started wispering something else ; having a member of the Romagna's great houses in her debts could be a good thing. And she could use the occasion to get what she needed.

"Well" Liza innocently responded. "What if I am ?"
avatar
Grand Auvergne

Posts : 180
Join date : 2016-09-17

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: The Investigation

Post by House of Judah on Sat Jan 28, 2017 8:54 pm

Margherita Romagnoli

Margherita smiled.

"There is a joust being held at an estate not far from here. I just need a way out of this nunnery, and I believe you can help with that. I look upon my memories and it occurs to me that I see you as oft as I don't when our time is our own. I think you know this convent as well as your own hand and can come and go from it unseen as you please. What do you say? Care for a jaunt?"
avatar
House of Judah

Posts : 331
Join date : 2015-11-28

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: The Investigation

Post by Grand Auvergne on Sun Jan 29, 2017 10:25 pm

Liza stood silent a moment. Seemingly thoughtful, trying to hide her interior debate over the proposition. Finally, she spoke in her soft, calm voice.

"There is a few things I need from the outside. Meet me tonight, about half a candle after the vepres, in the eastern vineyard. There's may be a way for you."

Liza feared that was a trap layed by Sister Diana or others who didn't like her "exploration" of the Abbey. Tonight, she'll stand away from the vineyard, to see if Margherita will come alone or not. If not, then Liza would just never appear. If she does come alone, and if she is sure it isn't a trap, then she will help her get out, using a weakness in the vineyard's wall, where it is a little bit shorter than anywhere else and on a slope.
avatar
Grand Auvergne

Posts : 180
Join date : 2016-09-17

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: The Investigation

Post by Sponsored content


Sponsored content


Back to top Go down

View previous topic View next topic Back to top

- Similar topics

 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum