Quaerentes in Extremis

Summer 1222

Monte Catillo de Vibio

The party from Scotland finally arrived in the central mountains of Italy. They sought the priest in the village of Tonio Fratta who sent Marcus the letter and learned that Marcus’ parents had not only been burned as witches, but that his maternal uncle had exposed their diabolism. Following their capture and executions, Marcus’ uncle the Baron Alfilio not only took the Malaspina family estate and rights in the town of Monte Castillo de Vibio, but he expanded the infernalist cult in the area.

Monte Castillo de Vibio has become a dark town when the sun goes down, filled with shadows that can harm the living and the ghost of the forsake and their victims among the town’s residents. Residents have fled the city when they have been able. But few leave now, most resigned to their lot. Still the town and the estate remains prosperous, even as their neighbor’s crops fail.

Marcus has learned that the local parish turns a blind eye to the Baron and his allies because the coffers continue to grow. This has kept interest from the Bishop of Perugia away, especially since he led the charges against the Malaspina’s when he was a parish priest and young canon at the cathedral in Perugia.

The priest also directed Marcus to a man who he said knew more about the evils there. He said the man was a drunk and possibly a heretic, but that he believed him. So off the party went to find Guido Massena, who was passed out in the mud beside the middens of the very tavern they were staying at.

Guido Massena as a dirty smelly scoundrel. He snarled more than he spoke. Once wine was offered, he told his tale. He said that he and other’s of his tradition battled the witches of Monte Castello de Vibio. These night battles had a certain set of rules, and that before BAron Alfillio took over, he had been told that they were little repercusions outside the battles themselves. Then in the last few years, the witches stopped fighting their seasonal night battles and started attacking his comrades in their homes and along the paths of Umbrian Mountains. Now he was one of the few nearby. Others who were more distant tried to refuse the call. He had not been found because he lived so low.

Massena told Marcus that he was a member of the Benandanti, the Good Walkers, who are summoned to serve as teens. They battle during the Ember Days, Church feasts, and fight against Infernal witches at agreed-on battlefields. They can fly, and can take the shape of animals or ride animals or tools. While the northern Italian Benandanti battle in human form and fight with bunches of fennel, while their foes use sorghum, here they take other forms. Massena did not tell the form but did refer to his comrades as his pack. Marcus was determined to learn more.

In the meantime, Brother Padrig suggested to the magi that they write the Bishop of Perugia or a Cardinal in Rome and seek aid. So he began researching who to write and said he would work with the Village Priest in this endeavor. Feargus and the men at arms went up the road to seek work as caravan guards as a cover to travel to the city.

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