The Temple Reliquary

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The Temple Reliquary

Post by House of Judah on Sun Jun 04, 2017 7:18 pm

Even generations after the completion of the Third Temple, there were still vast portions of the temple complex from the time of the First and Second Temples that remained hidden by the crumbled passageways formed from their destruction. Under the supervision of kohanim, workmen would come and carefully excavate the ruins that lay deep under the mount.

The periodic finds that broke the monotony were often of great value. Three years ago, a chamber filled with chests laden with silver was discovered. Four before that, library full of religious texts was unearthed. Some of the scrolls were beyond salvation, but a full set of ornate scrolls covering the entirety of the Tanakh were found perfectly preserved. The Kohen Gadol gifted them to his son in-law, King Yitzchak, for the ark the king kept his main hall.

Most other time, however, it was simple monotony. Not without use, for the excavations expanded the complex, allowing the Temple to expand its stores and allowing it to become a fortress unto itself, but still almost unbearably boring. It was an onerous task assigned to junior priests while their seniors took part in the true duties of the Kohanim.

The young kohan who had the rotation this month leaned against the wall, his eyes closed. Another boring day. Praised be that it would be the last of the week, for tonight began Shabbat and the day of rest. One more and his accursed rotation with the ill-mannered, fell-smelling workmen would be complete. One more week of this test that God had given him, and he would know the reward of my more proper task, one worthy of-

“Milord! Milord!” called the lead workman, shaking him from his meditation.

“What is it?” the kohan asked.

“We have found chamber, milord. There artifacts. We require your presence.” The young priest raised his head and widened his eyes in surprise.

“Show me.” He followed the workman into the excavation, past the lumber that supported the walls and into a large hall that was indeed full of objects, well preserved. “The hall shows no sign of damage.”

“No, milord. Not like any of the other halls found to date.”

“What could account for that? Even the best preserved chambers showed some sign of damage, burn marks near the entrance and the like. Here the damage is only just outside the entrance. In the passageway itself.”

“Perhaps the entrance was intentionally destroyed to preserve the room?”

“Perhaps.” The priest walked deeper into the chamber and surveyed the artifacts. Each had been mounted in their display with care, though what each was intended to be was far beyond him. He came to a alter towards the back of the chamber, upon which sat a signet ring. Looking below, he found a cabinet of scrolls. He pulled one, then another, reading each, then gazing around the room and finding some object with his eyes before moving to the next. After one, his eyes grew with an alarm. His quickly searched the room and until they locked themselves to a spear on one of the walls. He stared at it for some moments more.

“Milord?” the lead workman said carefully.

“Swear you men to secrecy.”

“What?”

“You heard me. Swear them to secrecy. And send one to fetch the Kohen Gadol. The Chief Rabbi as well. They must come here and see this, immediately.”



It was rare to see the Kohen Gadol and the Chief Rabbi enter a room together. They were oft at ends with one another over some matter and another, each favoring the goals of their Movement over the other. Still, they were allied on some matters and those matters were oft of great importance to King Yitzchak.

“Behold how pleasing it is when brothers sit together in unity,” the king said, quoting the popular hymn, as the two men entered the small chamber used for private audiences. “Or to stand together. You’ve asked for this meeting to be conducted in secrecy. Here we are. Speak, my friends.”

“You Majesty,” Eliezer ben Eliyahu, the Kohen Gadol, began, “the excavations beneath the Temple have revealed a new chamber, better preserved than any before it.”

“The chamber was filled?” Yitzchak asked.

“Indeed. Artifacts, a thousand years old or more.”

“Incredible. Are any of them known?”

“There were provenances found within the chamber that claim them to be a number of objects. The Ring of Solomon, the Sword of Apollonius…”

“The Ark of the Covenant?”

“No, Your Majesty. The Ark was not among the recovered artifacts.”

“A shame. Still, these are incredible finds! You must bring them to the citadel at once. I should like to view them.”

“Your Majesty, there are… certain relics we must be very careful about,” said Amnon ben Amos, the Chief Rabbi.

“‘Relic.’ That is a Christian word.”

“I am afraid it applies, Your Majesty, as the objects in question are unquestionably of import to the Christian faith. This scroll,” proffered the rabbi, “was among the provenances found.” Yitzchak accepted the scroll, opened it and began reading.

“‘This is the spear which, wielded by the hand of the Roman Longinus, was used to pierce the side of the rabbi Yehoshua ben Yosef, who was crucified by Romans upon the Gagulta,’” he read aloud. He looked up at the two religious leaders. “The Spear of Longinus? The Spear of Destiny, the Holy Lance of Christian lore. It lies beneath the Temple?”

“That is what it says, Your Majesty,” replied the Rabbi. “This is why we have approached you with such caution. If this is the Spear of Longinus, and the Christians learn of it, there is no prediction I can offer for how they will respond. Surely, either church will seek to claim it for their own against the other. And if we should decide to grant the spear to one and not the other…”

“A dangerous circumstance, indeed,” agreed the king. “Father," he said to Eli, his father in-law "you will hide it away in the Temple until we can further decide its faith. None shall speak of it. What of the workmen who discovered?”

“They have each been sworn to secrecy by oaths to God. Such oaths will not lightly be broken.”



“You are not afraid God will smite you for false oaths?” inquired the one man of the workman before him.

“I took the oath with no lie in my heart,” the workman replied. “But I find myself short of coin, and I and my family must eat. Any commandment may be broken to save your own or another’s life. My conscience is clean of sin.”

“Indeed. And you say it was a spear among Christian relics?”

“Aye, that it was sir. A Roman lance.”
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Re: The Temple Reliquary

Post by Hellas on Mon Jun 05, 2017 6:52 am

Perhaps this was fable, but it could be divine fate.

Euphranor, the Strategos of Lesser Cilicia thought, scratching his recently trimmed beard.
He didn't like wearing the thing, but it was the 'latest fashion' he was told.
Rather, Euphranor knew, it was the Emperor's fashion, a man who obviously didn't remember that he was meant to be Roman as well as, not just, Greek.

It was an Imperial merchant sailing into Zephyrion, a nearby village to Tarsus; Euphranor's home, who had sold the story of the relics to the Strategos, who, just coincidentally, happened to be the closest nobleman to the merchant at the time.

It was quite the story he had sold, if exaggerated to grab attention:
The Jews were hiding away Christian relics, perhaps even, the Holy Chalice, and enough riches to turn a beggar into a King, and to turn a Lord like himself into an Emperor.

The merchant was reputable, Euphranor knew, as reputable as a merchant could be.
But still, not a man foolish enough to lead the Strategos on a pointless endeavour, and risk his scorn.

What was there to lose? Euphranor thought.
The man, living so close to the border, always had his worries regarding his neighbours.
Namely, that Jewish lords would exploit the good people of Antioch into a fervor, loosing them across the border with himself being the first target.

However justified or unfounded, Euphranor had never made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
Well, that's not entirely the case, he had made the trip as a boy, but could recount nothing.
The only ones who could remember that would be very sharp-eyed, and elderly by now.

Euphranor had no idea how it was that he was meant to come upon these relics for himself, or his Empire, especially if they were hidden away in Jerusalem, without causing a diplomatic incident, and losing what he did already have, that is.
But, if he could.. just glimpse these relics, at least know of them personally.. well, that would be a start.

Euphranor sent two letters, one to Constantinople, to inform the Emperor of his diplomatic mission and 'pilgrimage' and how his son would govern in his stead.

The second was sent to Antioch, writing to the lord of the city there, telling him that he was beginning a pilgrimage, and that he wished to begin it in Antioch, starting with a meeting with the man.

Euphranor didn't care to do so, really. It would be necessary to maintain his appearances.
Although, the Antioch to Tarsus road was a busy one, it would be nice to meet the man.

Euphranor saddled up, adorned in an armor more becoming of a mercenary than a nobleman.
The Strategos had heard story of the Nazarene Guard, and how pilgrims needed to make use of them if they wished to travel outside of any port town.

Euphranor would have none of that.
He was of noble birth, after all, he and a handful of local men could hold their own, thank you very much.

Besides, the information Euphranor was after was far too sensitive for a group of volunteers and recruits.
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Re: The Temple Reliquary

Post by Grand Auvergne on Mon Jun 05, 2017 3:30 pm

Benoit VIII, Archbishop of Rome since 2 years now, was discussing with his Judges, the six ministers with whom he was ruling over the daily matters of the Church. The re-organisation of the local Councils was soon to be complete and was already so to a satisfying stage. The population of Rome was quiet and happy with the rule of the Popes. The apparition of godless rulers all over Europe, without any link together it seems, was suspicious and Benoit VIII made sure that some of his agents were present around theses regions. But the Aulden seemed relatively peacefull and while their conquest of catholic lands was unsettling, they seemed tolerant enough to let the Holy See re-organize an Archdiocese for the german and their son was in good hands, in the Abbey of Aurillac. The Pope was well aware that the next generation of Aulden King will be christian -after all, it was the speciality of Aurillac to teach the truth and mysteries of God, and with this sudden expansion, the Aulden were soon to be but a thin majority in their own borders. As it is, they weren't a problem. The second godless kingdom, the self-proclaimed "Empire", was close enough of the Byzantine border to not be a problem. The Pope was confident in the Emperor John ability to defend his title and his claim over the Balkans.

But the reunion was abruptly interrupted by a man entering the room in haste. It was Geralt, the Secretary of Benoit VIII. The latter let him approach and whisper something in his ear.

"Brothers, this reunion is over. Thanks for your presence."

The Judges saluted his Holiness and left the room. Benoit was silent, and Geralt didn't even thought about taking his Master out of his meditation.

"So, they found something again, hm ?"

"Yes. After the Hidden Library, they now have opened another crypt. Maybe their biggest discovery since now."

Benoit nodded. Infiltrating the Kingdom of Judah had not been an easy task. Even the local churches were already choke full of agents loyals to more locals masters. But he managed and it was now paying off.

"Any precision about the discoveries ?"

"Apollonius sword..." uninteressing thought the Pope. "...the Ring of Solomon..." Already better. He knew some of his brothers back at Aurillac would be willing to kill to get their hands on the artefact. That's why he certainly won't tell them. "...and the Spear of Longinus."

This time, the Pope raised an eyebrow. "We have already three lances of Longinus waiting somewhere, just in case. Why would I need this one ?"

"Because it might actually be the actual one."

Benoit left his chair and looked through the window, thinking about the implications, the powers of the symbols a,d the extremely fragile balance of power between the greeks, the latins and the jews. So many possibilities, so many risks...

"Send a Legate to investigate himself the situation." Ordered the Pope after a moment.

"For what mission your Holiness ?" Asked Geralt.

"Inspection. We have paid for a Cathedral in Antioch, and I want to see the first sign of progress. And also make him summon a council, so the local clergy can discuss the best ways to stop the greek rites from spreading. It won't fool the jews, but they won't be able to say anything and that's the most important."

"So, we send Xavier ?"

"Among the Legate's team yes. But for our representant himself let says...Bernard de Grenoble."

Geralt saluted the Pope and left the room, leaving the Pope alone, watching over Rome.
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Re: The Temple Reliquary

Post by House of Judah on Tue Jun 06, 2017 2:18 am

Antioch


Zalmen ben Shlomoh ben Yehudah

Zalmen had risen to his position much as the majority of Judea’s governors had, by sharing and shedding blood. The first of his king, the latter of his king's enemies. He had distinguished himself in his service to Ari, King Yitzchak’s son and marshal, and his reward had been this jewel, the most diverse of the kingdom’s provinces.

A constant headache.

Jews were thankfully the plurality in Antioch, which made the province far easier to govern. Still, much like Yafo and Ashkelon, there was regular friction between Greek and Latin Christians. The Moslems were typically more reliable, but such terms were relative as there would be periodic word of a rising caliphate which brought unrest to the Mohammedans. Alan troublemakers, leftover from their expulsion from the region, continued to find mischief in the city.

He sometimes imagined driving them all out so that he could finally govern a city that was peaceful and orderly. He might even be able to get away with expelling the Alans. The Muslims would be more problematic, since they were the second largest section of the population in Judea. And the Christians? Impossible. King Yitzchak’s Edict of Safe Passage and covenant with Rome protected the Christians from such treatment.

He was able to forcibly separate them, however. He had divided the city into quarters and forbade Latins and Greeks from residing in any quarter that was not their own. Further, it was impossible to pass directly from the Latin Quarter to the Greek. One would first have to pass through the Jewish and Muslim Quarters. The solution was less than ideal, and had he Solomon-like wisdom he might have been able to devise a better one. Alas, Zalmen was not Solomon, and this was as best as he could do.

The sun was dipping low, almost falling behind the hills, as he stood on the balcony looking out over the ancient Forum Valentis in the heart of the city. He watched the people of Antioch as they traversed the forum, going about their business in the later portions of the day. From behind him he heard a knock on the door of his chambers.

“Enter,” he called. One of his soldiers entered the room.

“Milord, a letter from Lesser Cilicia.” Zalmen nodded and motioned the soldier forward and took the letter from his hand. He briefly ran his thumb over the wax seal attesting to the identity of its originator, then opened the letter and read its contents.

“Splendid. A pilgrim with authority and no desire to make use of the Nazoreans. We will have to prepare to receive him and his host.”



Bishop Aleksandr

With his master, Cardinal Amos, in Rome attending to matters of the College of Cardinals, Aleksandr of Seleucia, Bishop of Agnus and Archdeacon of Antioch, was in effect the head of the Roman Catholic Church in the Antioch Province. The whole of the Syrian provinces, to tell truth, though his authority beyond the particular diocese of Antioch was somewhat lessened. Still, it was his task to oversee the priests and churches of the cities and to further the goals of the Church.

The efforts of himself and the cardinal had certain been successful. Followers of Rome and the heir of Saint Peter had been waning in these northern reaches of the Hebrew realm until Cardinal Amos had secured funds for the construction of a cathedral in Antioch, a task that Aleksandr had directly supervised. The result had been magnificent, and it created a renewed vigor for devotion to Holy God, his son Jesus Christ, and his one true church.

The donations had also allowed the diocese to purchase some farm lands outside the city, a source of funds that would reliably fill the church’s coffers. And, to an extent, Aleksandr’s, but he had taken the step of ensuring that a reliable Jew was managing the accounts such that no funds would ever appear missing.

Aleksandr’s power was about to be blunted, unfortunately. His master had sent word to prepare for a papal legate to examine the cathedral and that a council was to be hosted on curtailment of the Greek church in the Holy Land. That second one could present some problems with the Hebrew governor of the province, Zelman ben Shlomoh was already curtailing the activities of both churches in the city, hoping to prevent any further conflict. He was careful to maintain himself within the letter of the law, but what he had done had already forced the two communities to be entirely divorced from one another.

Such worries could be for another day, however. Bishop Aleksandr grabbed some parchment and quickly penned two notes, one to Governor Zelman, the other to the master of the local chapter of the Nazorean Guard, both informing of the pending arrival of a papal legate.



Zelman ben Shlomoh ben Yehudah

The Governor of Antioch eased his horse down the street, accompanied by his sons and Bishop Serafeim, a local leader of the Greek Church in Antioch. They had received word that Euphranor of Lesser Cilicia would be at the northern gate of the city within the hour. How fortuitous that a Greek lord would arrive on the same day as a papal legation.

And of course by fortuitous, Zelman truly meant catastrophic.



Bishop Aleksandr

Aleksandr waited at the Port of Seleucia, watching the ship in the distance grow larger. The crossed keys on the sail spoke of who had commissioned the ship’s mission. Soon the Papal Legation would come ashore and began their review of his and the Cardinal Amos’s actions.


Last edited by House of Judah on Wed Jun 07, 2017 4:31 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: The Temple Reliquary

Post by Grand Auvergne on Tue Jun 06, 2017 9:49 pm

Bernard de Grenoble was a man loyal to no temporal leader but the Pope and this was a known fact. He was one of theses priests who departed their birthplaces, Provence in this case, to try their luck in Rome. He became a proeminent figures among the franksh deacons and scribes of Latran when there was only a few of them, and when Benoit arrived from Aurillac with an army of franks and germans servants in his wake, he naturally became friend with the Cardinal. This proved to be a smart decision.

Now, Bernard was a Legate for the Holy See, once of the Pope most trusted men, whom he can send into missions anywhere, to serve as the Pope's eyes, ears and mouth.

However, he was not alone in the ship that transported him to Antioch. Of course, there was the rest of the delegation. A little brigade of scribes, guards and monks, what was considered the strict minimum for a Legate in mission. But there was also a large number of pilgrims in their way for the Holy Land. After all, it would have been a waste to send a ship with an empty hold. Beside, it wasn't like theses travellers were all spies for the Holy See.

Not all of them.

Legate Bernard greeted Bishop Aleksandr with a smile. "Ah, brother ! The Pope has heard many great things about your gestion of your Diocese and he sent me to see for myself the progress made in such an important region. Let's rest for now but tomorrow, I expect to see for myself the construction site of the future house of God that was so generously funded by so many donors. I wish to meet with the architect and his team, and some of the chief artisans of the project. Oh and please, would you mind my scribes to take a look on the accounts of the diocese ? Just so the Pope can have numbers to put on your success.

Once it is all done I hope everyone summoned will be present for our little reunion. There's important things to discuss. Very important things. "Of the futur of the Church and the ways to progress of the Fillioque and associated rites in Syria and the Holy Land". I think that's the official reason. Anyway, let's go shall we ? I hope to have the occasion to meet the population of Antioch on our way. A sheperd should always take care of his flock himself, don't you think ?"
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Re: The Temple Reliquary

Post by Hellas on Tue Jun 06, 2017 10:15 pm

Euphranor followed the road that sat along the Orontes, him and his four soldier-guards, and two servants.

There was no telling just yet to if the man could recover any artifacts, or better even, gold, out of the temple. If he or his men went in, and something was found to be missing later, it would be obvious who was responsible, perhaps he needed a local he could bribe, or perhaps he could just ask for them, could it be that simple?

If the merchant had bought the information off a workman, how many men had this workman told?

Nevertheless, it was time for pleasantries, the Lord of Antioch could be seen, Euphranor seeing the man before he saw him, saw the Governor put on a faux happy face once he caught sight of Euphranor.

That's fine, Euphranor thought. All he needed to know was the quickest way to Jerusalem anyway. The roads or the sea?

Euphranor greeted the Governor once he was close enough.
"Governor Zelman, Lord of the Antiochenes, I presume?
A pleasure to meet you at last, Your Lordship."

Euphranor didn't care for the man, not at all really.
The competition was part of it, why didn't he deserve a city like this?
This was a meant to be a Greek city, wasn't it?

His personal feelings would have to wait for him to leave Antioch and continue his journey towards Jerusalem though.
Now was the time to play humble pilgrim, and a guest who Zelman would wish to welcome back.

"and these must be your sons."
continued Euphranor, looking at the finely dressed young men accompanying Zelman, pushing out their chests, looking down their noses at Euphranor. Either your average excessively proud young noble, or sons, protective over their father, in the face of a strange nobleman, whose intention was unknown.

Probably the latter, and their intuition would prove wise.

Euphranor bowed his head at each of the men, not wishing to lower from his horse to do a full bow, as doing so would lower his standing.
He was meant to have a facade of kindness, not stupidity.

Next, the.. Bishop? Ah, of course, he was a pilgrim.
Euphranor nodded at Serafeim, and introduced himself.
Telling the man of his desire to see.. hmm.. the cave in which Saint Peter first preached.
Yes, that was bound to be a favorite of pilgrim nobles, just as Tarsus was a favorite of those following the footsteps of Saint Paul.

"Your Lordship, I have brought gifts.
Hopefully some of these will turn your gaze away from the natural splendour of your city, and the sapphire stream that flows through it.

I hope that I will have the honor to present you with them in the storied Palatium of this great city of Seleucus?"
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Re: The Temple Reliquary

Post by House of Judah on Wed Jun 07, 2017 5:55 am

Bishop Alexandr

Alexandr smiled back at the legate and greeted him warmly. “Welcome to the Holy Land, Brother. It is my great pleasure to host you. If it is within my power to grant, I will offer. Please, join me. Our horses are just over here.” The bishop led the way and they took mount. The Nazorean Knights took position and the fore and aft of the party as they made their way from the port to Antioch.

“I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the progress we have made already on the cathedral. One of the chapels has already been completed such that we have been able to begin hosting worship there. Even more important perhaps, the work has breathed life into a community that had been dying. The better part of the workmen are our people, and I have made sure that as many of the materials as possible have been purchased from vendors who are the same. We have given some modest amount above the market rate for each, but that small infusion of coin is driving commerce to make a Septiman salivate. There was some brief trouble when Governor Zelman reorganized the city, but overall his creation of quarters of the city has helped to keep the troublesome Greeks from disrupting our community and our work.”

Alexandr continued discussing events in the city without fear of the small amount he pocketed being discovered. He had the personal assurance of the Jew who handled the accounts. Afterall, all of the product of the fields he had sold to fund his own purse had all been unrecorded in the ledgers or logged as spoiled and unfit for sale.



Sir Adrián de Sancha

Sir Adrián, the master of the local chapter of the Nazorean Guard, rode back towards the city with impatience. A papal legate was of great import, assuredly, but the Nazoreans were sworn to serve Jerusalem, not Rome, and his adopted king had made clear that preserving the peace was their greater task. With Antioch always in some form of turmoil or another, he could not countenance taking himself and his men away from there to only serve as an honor guard.

Still, Bishop Alexandr had asked and Governor Zelman supported the notion. The governor had assured him that the city guard would be well able to dispense with his presence for the short period that would cover his absence. Still, he was anxious to return to the city.



Zelman ben Shlomoh ben Yehudah

The governor nodded appreciatively.

“Your gifts are well received, Strategos Euphranor. Please, join me. It is only a short ride to the Palatium.” He guided his horse to the west and waited for the Greek to join him before continuing. “The Palatium was not much to speak of when we took the city, but its restoration was heavily invested in. It is now the administrative center of the city. The complex is rather impressive. Even as a Jew, I must marvel at times at Roman architecture and its ability to weather the storms of time.” They came to a bridge which crossed the Orentes and a pair of soldiers saluted the governor.

“The Orentes forms the western boundary of the Greek Quarter, and it extends as far south as the Forum Valentis. The island here is exempted from the residence law, though the only actual lodging to be found within is the Palatium itself and the Nazorean Hospital. You are free to make use of either. The cave you wish to begin your pilgrimage at lies to the beyond the eastern gate of the city. Allow me to ask, though, what other sites were you intending to visit on your pilgrimage? Are there any others in the region? Bishop Serafeim and myself would be more than happy to assist you in any further planning you might need for your journey.”
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Re: The Temple Reliquary

Post by Hellas on Fri Jun 09, 2017 10:25 pm

Strategos Euphranor

"I believe I'll stay at the Palatium if an Orthodox alternative to the Nazoreans is unavailable." Euphranor spoke, trying to save himself from the risk of being placed under the watch of an overzealous guardsman.

"I believe I'll begin my pilgrimage here, and then travel to Nazareth and Jerusalem, all of the usual places, Your Lordship, I'd like to keep something of a low profile, and I do not wish for my titles to make me a target. Therefore, I thank you both for the offer, but I have my route already planned, and do not require any assistance, as appreciated as it is."

Once the group was back in the Palatium, Euphranor presented Zelman with his gifts:
A Nisean stallion, castrated to make sure of the proper behavior expected of a nobleman's steed.
A chest of newly minted solidi, featuring Emperor John on one side, and various Christian symbols on the opposite.
Finally, an icon of Julian the Martyr, a figure the Christians of Antioch and Tarsus would both share respect for.

As Euphranor's servant showed the icon to the court, the Strategos spoke:
"If His Lordship does not find much use for the icon personally; just as I look to begin my pilgrimage to find greater salvation, may you look for a Christian to confer this gift onto who you believe would find meaning in it."
Euphranor looked over to Bishop Serafeim for just a moment before returning his gaze to Zelman.

"Your Lordship, I thank you and your sons for hosting me.
May our two cities forever prosper in their continued cooperation."
Euphranor slightly bowed his head, waiting to be dismissed, and return to observing the court's goings-on.


Last edited by Hellas on Fri Jun 16, 2017 12:43 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: The Temple Reliquary

Post by Grand Auvergne on Thu Jun 15, 2017 10:47 pm

The Legate inspected the cathedral and met with the architect, as planned. He also took time to pray in the finished chapel and to appear to the gathered crowd.

But all of this was just a diversion. Meanwhile, Bernard de Grenoble and Xavier Dumont waited for their agents to be in place. Some members of the delegations also asked questions around, to gather informations.

It is hard to say if it's because the Jewish accountant of Alexandr was competent or because the Legate didn't care enough, but he didn't noticed the Bishop's scam.

In the hour before supper, Legate Bernard summoned the Bishop to discuss in private. He asked about everything and nothing : the relationship with the Greeks and the Jews, the opinions of the royal family toward the Catholics, Potential allies in the administrations, about the third templ, and so on.

"I want your opinion on all of this" said the Legate, as if he was answering Alexandr's thoughts. Of course, most of theses informations were already knew by the Pope and his trusted agents, but Benoit needed to test how much he could trust the Bishop or if he was a danger for the operation. Bernard like to think he had a good eye to judge peoples, and His Holiness the Pope seemed to think the same. So he watched for any sign. It was an interrogation, and it was obvious, but it was also part of the test.
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Re: The Temple Reliquary

Post by House of Judah on Sat Jun 17, 2017 6:39 am

Antioch


Zalmen ben Shlomoh ben Yehudah

“We thank you for the sharing of your bounty,” Governor Zalmen said to the Strategos. “Please, enjoy the hospitality of Antioch.” He nodded to the Greek to allow the other man to be about his business while he motioned over one of his sons. “He could have made my life far easier had he made it a direct gift to his favored church rather than to me first,” he whispered into his son’s ear. “Make some discreet inquiries and determine if the icons are of import to both churches or just one. I need to know if it is gifted to one church, will the communities see us as favoring one cult over the other.”

“As you will, father, so it will be,” the boy replied.

"And get a serving girl, one we can trust. Send her to his chambers as a maid. Choose her to be comely. If he should wish to bed her, she must allow it. Anything she must do to ensure she is welcome in his rooms.” his son frowned.

“Of course, Father. She will need to be Greek. There are a few I can think of. Is there a particular reason?”

"I get a feeling from this man. I'm not fully sure of his intentions. Have we received any word of Roman Legation yet?”

“No father. But Yivel is going to where the Latins build their cathedral. I am sure there will be soon.”



Bishop Alexandr

“King Yitzchak is certainly a wise king. He has managed to carefully navigate holding his realm together, mostly in peace, despite his tolerance for different faiths. In truth, I know not with intimacy the minds of the rulers in Jerusalem. Here in Antioch, Governor Zalmen and his sons are careful to keep themselves neutral.

“His forced relocations were certainly disturbing, but the fractious Greeks made it a necessity if he wished to keep peace in the city. I have been to other cities of the realm. The port cities where pilgrims flow into the Holy Land are full of such conflict. Here it was even worse. Five months past there was a riot. One of our procurers was traversing the city with supply for construction when he was accosted by Greek bastards. When he defended himself, other of their ill-tempered ilk attacked. Our people leapt to the defence, but truly once such skirmishes begin, one who will come upon the scene after commencement were ill-able to determine the true culprits. The city-guard and the Nazoreans brought the melee to end and imposed a curfew. Next day the order came down. Five days to vacate your home if you did not reside within the designated quarter. We did what we could to assist our people, of course, but it was a hectic time.

“If I must be honest, I fear at times the patience of the Jews for the conflict between the Church and the schismatics wears thin. It is a point I have made several times to their leader, Serafeim, when I have encountered him at the governor’s court in the Roman Palatium. He apes at agreeing, and yet his people continue to provoke conflict. I can’t be spared anywhere far from the city lest the Greeks capitalize on the absence of my example as a rock of our faith and provoke our people into rash action.

“Were I able, I should like to go to Jerusalem once more. A beautiful gem of a city, including their Temple. To Solomon’s Temple built anew is awe inspiring, even if it is only the outer wall. The majority of Temple grounds are forbidden to all but their priests and those who go to offer… sacrifices.”
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Re: The Temple Reliquary

Post by Hellas on Sun Jun 25, 2017 5:25 am

Strategos Euphranor

Euphranor let the girl in to tidy up, the Strategos had plenty enough servants, and wanted very much his solitude, he could have made that known to Zelman, but, no need to draw his gaze, he first thought.

That obviously did not work, Zelman had his eyes on him, the girl must take her orders from someone after all.

Euphranor admired the shape of the servant, she was being very.. inviting, after all. It was difficult not to look, her 'dropping' something and taking her time to purposefully bend over to pick it up, or changing the linens, and extending herself across the bed in a.. erm, in a uh, that is to say, a very un-ladylike position, hmm, right, he'd have to see to giving her a lesson in proper manners.

Nothing too much could have been gained by the maid, other than that Euphranor was looking to hire a good-sized boat at the Jaffa harbour. Greek crew, so that there would be no misunderstandings in translation.

What the maids ears heard was that Euphranor wished to 'finish his pilgrimage in comfort, and escape the heat in the peace of the cool, briny zephyr before the sun melted the sands into glass.' Well, that would be an added bonus. Perhaps he could get the ship's crew to assist him, if nothing else. Euphranor would have to look further into that in Jerusalem, as well as signing any contracts.

If the Jews were actually hiding relics from the Christians, and Euphranor could retrieve some manner of evidence to back it up, all it would take would be "something, something, they're performing ritual sacrifices atop holy relics" in order to get a fervent mob of sailors, perhaps even a congregation, or a community, if necessary, united under a cause, Euphranor's cause, that is.

Once the sun rose, Euphranor and his attaché would ride for Jerusalem, sticking mostly to the coast, when able to, leaving the maid behind in his bed, to wake alone. If this little harlot spy was Zelman's gift, Euphranor would be leaving his own gift behind, in the maid's ward.
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Re: The Temple Reliquary

Post by Grand Auvergne on Mon Jun 26, 2017 3:40 pm

Legate Bernard :

"Ah yes. It is what we expected. The tensions between His Holiness and the Emperor are returning, to level not seen since the rise of Otton. And the Holy Land is now one big powder keg, ready to be ignited. The rise of the Jews on one side, the Excommunation on the other... fire is rising my brother. Fire is rising.

Which is why His Holiness sent me here : to serve as a... firefigther. Among other things. This is the whole purpose of the Council we are calling. It's issue is already fixed and I have it here with me, on theses papers, the conclusions to reach. To be short : we need to tone down the violence to more... acceptables levels. We'll use the Gospels to make our point. Once again, I repeat, His Holiness has fixed our course and he won't tolerate any deviation.

On another note, if you trully wish to go to Jerusalem, there might be an opportunity for you, after the Council. My delegation will stay a bit longer, to take communion with the loyal flocks, and you will be free to go. With a paper in your packages. On this paper, there will be some... "strong advises" that you will be free to follow or not.

Anyway, we'll end this discussion here for now. It is time to go to the hall for the supper, isn't it ?"


Under the escort of the Nazorean Guard, the pilgrims soon arrived at Jerusalem and dissapeared into the crowd of the city's inhabitants and visitors. Some did what they came for, visited the holy sites, prayed on this holy ground and then leaved to return to their homes. But other took more time to do so, stayed longer to discuss with the locals and the other travellers at the taverns, made some friends, here and there. They wandered in the city's streets, sometime far away from the holy sites. They didn't had any supervisors but they had orders and a few weeks to build a network of key informants before they had to send their first reports.
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Re: The Temple Reliquary

Post by House of Judah on Wed Jun 28, 2017 8:14 am

Antioch


Zalmen ben Shlomoh ben Yehudah

The governor watched the Greek company ride out at dawn. They grew smaller as the distance grew. From behind him he heard the latch on the door behind him lift and the door swing open. He recognized the heavy footsteps of his son, and recognized there were another set, softer in noise, that accompanied him. He held up his hand to maintain the newcomers silent until he could no longer see them. Zalmen turned and beheld his son standing beside a Greek girl.

“Is she the maid?” he asked. His son nodded and Zalmen regarded her thoughtfully. “What did you learn of the Strategos?”

“He is a pilgrim, milord, nothing more. He will travel to Jerusalem and walk the and see the places that Christ walked before his crucifixion, then depart from Jaffa to return to his lands.”

“This land is Hebrew, not Greek, as is you lord. You will call the cities Yerushalayim and Yafo, their names in the tongue of your lord. Do you understand?”

“Yes milord.”

“Is there any more?”

“He said he would hire a Greek crew.”

“Why?”

“That they will not lack understanding of his orders.”

“Did you lie with the Strategos last night?”

“Milord, I-”

“Spare the protestations. I am too practical a man for them. Besides, you were chosen because you were comely and you were instructed to be receptive if he advanced on you. Did he?”

“Yes milord.”

“And were you receptive?”

“Yes milord.”

“And tell me, when last did you know a man? Remember, spare the protestations.”

“A month and half, milord.”

“So you have bled since. Good. Hear me now, girl. You are forbidden to lie with a man again until your next monthly bleeding. If it has come to pass that you are now with child, you will protect that pregnancy with all your life. You will hold no duty in this palace for the next two months. Instead, you shall remain in locked away in a cell. You will be comfortable and well fed. You shall think yourself in the most resplendent of cages. But you will not leave. Do you understand me?”

“Yes milord.” Zalmen nodded to his son, who opened the door and ushered in an older nurse who took the maid to her new lodge. He sat at his desk and began composing a letter, to be delivered direct to the hand of Barak ben Boaz, the king’s spymaster. He knew not what the man could do with such scant details, but it was a certainty that he knew far better how to use them than the governor did.



Bishop Alexandr

“Of course, brother. We will keep ourselves to the path that His Holiness in Rome has set before us. I pray the Greeks will be so magnanimous. In truth it has been long since I have taken time to tend to my own spiritual needs. I should like to travel to Jerusalem, if you will spare the man to continue to oversee construction of the cathedral and the peace of our communion.”



Jerusalem


Yael bat Yitzchak ben Yehudah

“What do we know of the Romans?” Yael asked of Barak, her father’s spymaster.

“That they are far from home and have come to Jerusalem as both pilgrim and emissary,” he answered.

“And that is all?”

“So far. Worry not, princess. We are watching them. A Roman legation is enough of an oddity we would not fall down on the duty of watching them.”

“There are quite the number of them. How will you track them completely?”

“Oh, I imagine your spies will do just as well as my own,” he said with some mirth. A rye smile spread across Yael’s face.

“You already have a source among them.”

“Yes. He just needs to be informed of the status.”



Over the next few weeks, the Papal Legation built up a network of informants. Many were Christians loyal to the Church, but more so were Jews who showed their mercantile nature by selling their eyes and ears.

At the same time, the Strategos established himself in Jerusalem in the company of Greek men he found in Yafo.

Both would learn soon that only three manner of people were permitted within the temple: the Kohanim, the Hebrew priests and descendants of Aaron, Jews bringing sacrifices to the temple, and Levites who were tasked with upkeep and maintenance of the temple complex and caring for the Kohanim. Royal genealogists maintained the records of who were descendant of the Kohanim or the Tribe of Levi, all guarded and housed in King David's Citadel. Both groups were watched closely by spies of Barak ben Boaz and Yael bat Yitzchak ben Yehudah.
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Re: The Temple Reliquary

Post by Aegyptus on Fri Jul 07, 2017 9:46 pm

King Demetrius I was a paranoid man, to say the least. As soon as he seized rule of the country, he had released spies all over the capital and surrounding towns, villages, and hamlets, ensuring total control. In less than two weeks, he had executed hundreds of so-called traitors. But one day, a different sort of news arrived. Two spies, Lazarus and Ignatius, entered the Palace hurriedly. The two were known for their intense love and loyalty for the Christian monarch, despite his tyranny. They entered the King's Court, which was empty save for the King himself. It had radically changed since his father's reign-- it seemed he was intent on destroying his father's legacy. While the arches and columns and tapestry and luxurious furniture remained the same, the murals faithful to the traditional Egyptian style had apparently been removed, to be placed in storage or possibly destroyed. They had instead been replaced with murals depicting scenes more akin to Christian themes.

The two spies bowed deeply, and Lazarus began to speak, still on his knees. "Sire, while attending to our duties in the local marketplace, we overheard rumours from multiple foreign merchants of an ancient artefact found in Judea. They say that it is the Holy Lance- the Lance of Longinus." He fell silent, awaiting his King's reply. King Demetrius spoke up. His voice was a silver one, tinted with a grain of cruelty and authority. "And how can we be sure of the authenticity of this?", he asked. Ignatius spoke first. "We cannot, but many merchants and even citizens are speaking of it. It is, of course, Your Grace's decision whether or not we should pursue it, but we think that it may be profitable to us." The King thought for some time, considering his options. There would be no harm to this- and if the rumours were true, and he was able to get his hands on the Spear-- The profit would be immense. It would cement and immortalise him in history as a great Christian leader.

"I agree, Ignatius. You and Lazarus shall go to Judea, accompanied by a number of other spies. Report to me regularly." The two nodded and exited the Palace just as hurriedly as they'd entered it. The monarch was left to brood by himself. The other realms had almost definitely also heard the rumours, and they would definitely rush to claim the Spear of Longinus for themselves. It would be a race, and King Demetrius was determined to win.
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Re: The Temple Reliquary

Post by Hellas on Tue Sep 05, 2017 7:07 am

The Strategos read over his reports from his hired sailors, delivered to his housing in the usual covert way.

The captain of the sailors, who had penned the reports, had mentioned in his postscript how he and his men grew tired of this 'spy's work'.

The captain wrote how his men were willing to return a portion of the coins given to them in order to abandon Euphranor and return to the port towns for steady, honest work, and that he had negotiated that from his men's initial idea of "Let's run off with the coin."

The captain finished his report with the somewhat reassuring words that he would be able to calm the men down for a few more days, but any longer than that and they would be gone.

Luckily then, that the captain had mentioned something else in his reports.
A group of men entering the city from the southwest, that is.
Traders had seen them passing through the Augoustamnica and Sinai Imperial provinces, but could not say whether or not they departed from Alexandria, as a few of the men had the look, or at least the influences of the culture that were common among Greeks and Alexandrians.

This arrival was no coincidence, not at a time like this.
These men had heard the rumours, sure as that devil Emperor John had heard.
As sure as Philip, the Catepan of Lycia & Cilicia had heard.
His old rival would be sure to send his brutes in to beat Euphranor to the treasures, and from there take control of Tarsus along with his city of Xanthos.

No, that wouldn't do. If the Empire became fully involved, it would be over, for Euphranor at least.
The Strategos would have to work with these Egyptians.
Damn the spear, its authenticity can't even be proven, Euphranor thought.
But the wealth, that's undoubtable, that's the real prize, that's what raises armies to make men Kings, to make men Emperors.

Euphranor sent out his sailors to seek out these Egyptians, they were ordered to slip a note from the Strategos, telling how if the men  wished to work together for "the betterment of Christendom, then it would be fruitful and enriching to visit an Orthodox ally at his temporary home here in the city."

If they chose to come to Euphranor's residence, the Strategos would lay out his plan to let the Egyptians have the Spear and a portion of the wealth, if Euphranor could escape with the majority of the coin. Euphranor could offer support from allies back home who support him in his vie for a crown or the crown.

That, and, of course, a ship with a capable crew who could help the group sail around the desert, and into the harbour of Alexandria or Hamarkhis, avoiding any detection along the long road back home.

Assuming of course, that nobody beats the Orthodox men to it, that is.
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