• Crusader Kings III Available Now!

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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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General
Jun 7, 2003
2.475
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February 1384

Confessions in the Night

Peter understood the Danish spoken by the archbishop quite well, but for a second he pondered whether to use his own rough Danish or continue in latin. He decided to follow the archbishop's example, he was after all higher than him in rank and it was unlikely that someone could possibly have any idea of where they were located... he hoped. He had dissappeared from Stockholm without anyone seeing him, hidden in a few christian pilgrims' cloth-covered carriage. He might never be able to return to Skara but the truth must be told, he had thought. The truth.

The pilgrims let him off in Mariefred, from where he had bought a horse under the name Frans Jonsson. His formal episcopal clothes were in his travelling bag and thus noone had recognised him as nothing else than a relatively wealthy monk. From there he had rode to Skara and written the letter to Lund trying to draw least possible amount of attention to himself. A mute man employed and named Jens by the church in Skara had been the perfect messenger and he left the same day he had come claiming he was going to Vadstena on a short pilgrimage to the relics of Holy Bridget.

The rough walls of the tiny room had once been white but was now covered in spider's web and dirt. It looked like a storage of some sort with swords, shields, crossbows and arrows leaning towards the walls. This kind of armory rooms were common in the older Swedish churches due to their history of dual function as both church and fortress. It was however unusual that they were actually used but this room seemed to be filled with weapons to arm at least ten knights and fourty footmen. As there were no windows, a lonely candlestick had been brought into the room and five candles spread their pale lights over the walls. A small crucifix was also standing on the floor, and the suffering Jesus was embraced by the dancing shadows. The holy man with the crown of thorns looked unpleasant on the cross, like a ghost. The presence of this holy item in the spartan room seemed to calm Peter though, and he fixed his eyes on it when he spoke.

"A danger?" Peter said in a mix of Västgötaswedish and Danish, looking like if he heard the word for the first time in his life. "Oh, yes. The church of..." An imagined sound interrupted him and made him look anxiously towards the large door for several seconds until they again went back to the crucifix

"...the church of Sweden is in danger, and so are many innocent souls within it. Most heresies turns pale in comparision to what is going on in this dark corner of the christian world where noone sees and noone hears." I think, and so I know God exists he thought and stared at the Jesus statue even more intensively. He had trouble holding back his tears. "Honoured Father, I wish to confess. In front of you and the holy trinity, I want my sins to be spoken out so that I can again in all honesty love God and enter His holy embrace of the faithful. I have been freezing all since the day God abondoned me. Honoured father, it's so cold."
 

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General
Jun 7, 2003
2.475
7
Uppsala

Henrik Karlsson was a successful man, no doubt about it. Respected throughout the country and with a reputation that had reached all the way to Rome and impressed the pope so much that he had been appointed archbishop of Uppsala and primate of Sweden. He was now the second most powerful man in the country, and he couldn't wait to become number one. There was one thing that troubled him though... no, two things.

Firstly the pope of Avignon had been surprisingly cold towards him. Henrik had expected him to be more generous, if the man had been able to read between the lines he would have understood to be more friendly. The fact that the primate of Sweden even wrote a letter to him, let alone addressed him "his holiness" should have made him understand that Sweden was buyable but no. The letter had been a dissapointment, saying nothing but 'maybe we'll do this' and 'perhaps that will happen in the future, but not now'. Henrik, who was a man who knew what he wanted and wanted it quick, knew that those phrases were usually latin for 'no way' or 'we couldn't care less'. Tithe was already collected, and the uneducated hoi polloi who didn't understand that there were two popes would probably rebel if the church began to collect two tithes. Oh well, Avignon will pay for their ignorance later, he thought. Henrik took a sip of the wine that had just arrived from the pope in Rome. It tasted wonderfully. Along with the papal gifts had also been grapes, pottery and coins, which would equal at least three years of tithe.

The second problem he had was the bishop of Skara, a man called Peter Kristiansson. Skara was a powerful bishopric located in the richest part of Sweden, Västergötland. The man had greeted him at first, and they had spoken as friends when they first met a few weeks before the belated coronation of Henrik had taken place. They had discussed the schism and religion, as well as Swedish domestic policies and the church's interest in the council. When the coronation began however, Peter had been totally changed on the coronation and Henrik thought he had seen Peter's lips closed when the bishops jointly declared their loyalty and subordination. Then he had dissappeared from Stockholm, without leaving anything behind. The guards swore they hadn't let any bishop out, but yet he was absent during the council and couldn't be found anywhere in the city. He had fled, perhaps because he had seen something? Something he shouldn't have seen. Does he know?

Henrik had been quick to react, immediately after the three days of the council were over he had said goodbye and hastily returned to Uppsala. From there he had sent a letter to Skara, asking the bishop in rather rough terms why he had been absent during the council and asked him to attend Uppsala to explain his behaviour personally. He had also sent an unofficial letter to the priests in the bishopric of Skara to look for the bishop and report any spottings because "the archbishop wanted to have a word with him as soon as it was possible."

A discrete sound was heard from the doorway, and Henrik saw a servant waiting to get his attention. He probably had stood there a long time, cause he restlessly moved from one foot to another. Henrik gave him a nod with his head.

"Speak." he said.

"Excuse me Ers Excellens, but there is an emissary from the cathedral chapter of Skara here to meet with you. He says it is urgent."

"För all del, bring him in", Henrik said delightfully. What a splendid time for the emissary to arrive, when the Uppsala cathedral was filled with all the various luxuries from Rome that hadn't yet been sold.

With a satisfied smile he imagined the emissary's reaction when he visited the new archbishop and was offered as much Roman wine as he wanted. The old archbishop could hardly have been able to afford beer, as so much money went from the treasures of the Swedish church to Roman cardinals to try to speed up the recognition of Bridget as a saint within his lifetime. The guy had been obsessed with trying to get remembered as the man who made it possible, but he had failed when he "accidently" died in Vadstena and all his efforts had fallen into the hands of Henrik. He hadn't recognized the possibilities in today's church, but Henrik had, and now he was going to exploit them.
 

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Confessions in the Night

Jakob Gertsen found himself absorbed in the mans fear. He too checked over his shoulder to see if anyone had followed him here, and briefly considered walking to the door to ensure that it was proparbly closed. However, he refused to give in to such folly. Who would dare to hurt him and the frightened bishop of Skarpa, two men of the church, here, in front of an altar of the Lord? Surely they enjoyed a protection far greater than that offered by even the sturdiest door.

"Have no fear, my son. Surely, through your act of summoning me, and thus alerting the world to your fears, you have proven that you have not abandoned God. God is mercifull and forgiving, and will not abandon his servants who do not abandon him."

The entire situation was growing stranger for each word the Swede spoke. He spoke of the darkest of heresies, and Jakob found himself more curious than scared. What kind of cult could have taken hold in Sweden to cause such fears? Jakob was simply unable to imagine what terros the archbishop and bishops of Sweden were commiting. Surely, their sins had to be great indeed for one of their own to summon him to this strange meeting.
Jakob knew of the powers of rituals. His host, if he could be called such, were a man of the church, and would proparbly find comfort in the familiar rites. Under the formal language of the services to God, men could lighten their heart far easier than in their common tongue. Even though Jakobs latin was rusty from years of misuse, he decided to offer the protection of this tongue of mystery, and to seek safety in wellknown speeches.

Jakob rose and made the sign of the cross over the kneeling bishop of Skarpa. He then intoned the words both knew transformed this from a conversation between two men, to a confession of sins to God.

"Misereatur tui omnipotens Deus, et dimissis peccatis tuis, perducat te ad vitam aeternam."
 

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General
Jun 7, 2003
2.475
7
Falköping

"Misereatur tui omnipotens Deus, et dimissis peccatis tuis, perducat te ad vitam aeternam."

Peter recieved the holy words and the cross sign with a pounding heart. In the quiet room it felt like if the beating drum in his chest was enough to wake up whole Falköping and alarm them of their secret meeting, and he cursed it quietly. Peter knew the words spoken to him, he had spoken them so many times himself for priests and high officials from all over Västergötland who wanted to confess. It was normally made in public though, in front of a jury who would then pass a verdict of the confessor. However, in this room the only jury was the holy ghost and the verdict that would be passed would not affect his body for a few weeks in this life, but his immortal soul for eternity. The sign of the cross is a blessing, but Peter felt nothing special as the archbishop brought his thumb, index and middle finger symbolizing the holy trinity to a point and then put them on his forehead.

"In nomine Patris...".

He moved them down to the sternum with his two remaining fingers kept pressed close to the palm, representing the human and divine natures united together in Jesus Christ.

"...et Filii...",

He moved his fingers from Peter's sternum across the shoulders from the right to the left.

"...et Spiritus Sancti, Amen".

"Amen" mumbered Peter, still not feeling exceptionally blessed. It was still cold and he felt alone, he hadn't deserved the sign of the cross. He kept getting flashbacks from the night in Stockholm.

He lay down with his face downwards and his arms straight out like a cross to show his inferiority in front of the archbishop and Christ, but yet the quietness lasted for more than a minute before Peter finally spoke. When he did it was with a trembling thin voice

"I am the second highest church official in Sweden, honoured father, but yet I was shocked by what I saw. I do not know whether it was the devil or God who lead me to take that way that night, but it lead me to sin. When I wrote the letter I was convinced it was God who gave me a mission, but I have started to doubt. Regardless, I failed..."

His voice stabilized as he begun to confess various minor sins. The worst one being, perhaps, that Peter had had lust to a peasant woman in Skara who used to attend his church. He had also once diluted the wine at the Sacrament, when the times were harsh under the previous archbishop and the church was relatively poor.

"It was the day before the coronation of his excellency, Henricus Carolus, the new archbishop of Uppsala and primate of Sweden. Henricus was appointed by the pope, Jacob, the pope. The holy pontiff in Rome himself! And the pope is lead by God when he makes his decisions, so that makes the archbishop appointed in agreement with God, his son and the holy ghost, the archbishop was appointed by God, Jacob, just like you... and me."

The archbishop noticed that Peter had begun to use his name, Jacob, instead of styling him honoured father like he did before. Peter was unaware of it though, and kept chanting the words in his head while the sinful thoughts that had been in his head escaped across his tounge, hopefully never to come back. Cogito, ergo Deus est

"It was past midnight, I'm sure of that because the moon shined brighter than ever before. Like the star of Betlehem it made the city of Stockholm bath in light as was it the sun shining from behind thick dark clouds. Noone seemed to notice it however, one could think that people would wake up to such a blinding light in the middle of nighttime, but it appeared to be only me who could see it. Like once the holy star of Betlehem, it was pointing on something, like trying to guide me, and I followed the light until I came to an alley in connection to Stortorget. The streets were empty, it was like in a dream. I wandered alone towards the light."

"Then, I saw that it wasn't only me who had seen the exceptionally bright moon this night. I saw Henricus, elected by God, wandering the same way. Delighted, for Henricus was my friend that night, I tried to catch his attention, but to my surprise my lips were sealed and my limbs lame. Henricus didn't see me, but continued towards the dark alley, a meter wide at best. When he dissappeared behind a gable, my lame legs began moving without me doing anything for I still thought I was lame. They carried me after him, and into the dark alley"

Peter was like in trance, it didn't feel like if it was him talking. In his head the words kept chanting. Cogito, ergo Deus est

"Walking the alley was like walking an endless tunnel. I knew the alley, for it connects Stortorget with the royal castle and since my residence in Stockholm lies on the other side of Stortorget I had walked it many times before. However, this night it was different for it was not me walking there volountarily, it was my legs carrying me there by their, or someone else's, will. The light dissappeared when we entered the tunnel and I could see nothing. I was frightened that I would walk into the wall on the other side of the street at the end of the alley, but the street never came. I swear my legs carried me straight forward, but as through a miracle I did not hit anything. After half a minute I began to relax when a voice spoke to me in my head, and it said 'fear not, for I will not hurt you'. I wanted to ask who was there, but my tounge was still mute and my lips sealed."

"Then suddenly, the light returned. I could not see where I was, but I saw that Henricus was there, and with him a man with his back towards me, dressed in the formal clothing of a bishop. There were also two rough men with red hair and a priest with black hair cut like the hair of a monk. They were all talking to eachother but I couldn't hear what they were saying. I felt an urge to come closer, but I didn't want to be seen. It was strange, for I was watching my friend and the person who would become my soverigin the next day but yet I didn't want to let him know I was there. Like common thief I sneaked behind a staple of barrels outside an Inn, so that I could hear what they were talking about."

"I still could not see the bishop's face, and I did not recognize the two other ones. I am... I am sure that Henricus was there though, for I could see him clearly. He held a torch that lightened up his face even further than the bright moonlight while the bishops face was covered in dark shadows. Fortunately, perhaps, for I do not know if I wish I had seen his face. I heard them speak about the election and the coronation that would take place afterwards. Henricus... Henricus gave a promise to the red-haired men that they'd get their share of the fortunes that he claimed would soon flood the churches all across Sveariket, as soon as he got elected. He spoke like if he was the Messiah himself, who would save Sweden from the devilish sins of its people and the last archbishop. He called me and all the bishops sinners, for supporting Birger Gregersson. Was he right, honoured father? I swore alliegance to Birger, just like I've sworn alliegance to Henricus."

"The archbishop... the archbishop then seemed to get into arguing with the priest. I do not think it was a priest from Stockholm, but rather someone who had travelled there for monitoring the council in his parish's or his hundred's interest. By his accent, I'd think he was from Västmanland but I cannot tell. He defended me, and my brothers in faith. He defended the whole people in Sweden, and insisted that because Greger was chosen by God's representative on Earth he was infallible. Henricus answered... that there was no true pope. That God had abondoned the humans for fighting among themselves too much and that not the pope in Rome nor the pope in Avignon were true representative's of God. If he'd pledge alliegance to any it'd be the pope in Avignon because it was a well known fact that he was the richest one of the two and the one who treated his primates best. The bishop asked him how he could know that, and then... then I saw it. Henricus gave up a horrible scream, and two red horns began growing from under his skin. Out of his trousers grew a long red pointed tail, and the torch in his hand had transformed into a knife covered in flames. Flames that would have burnt any hand, but Henricus hand held the knife without shifting colour. Henricus then stabbed down the parish priest, who fell down to the ground, dead. With a voice sounding like if it came from the deepest of dungeons, Henricus told the other men to carry the priest with them, and then they dissappeared. Shocked, I went to the church to pray but all since then I have felt a horrible isolation from the rest of the world, like if I had the plague."

The bishop lying on the ground became quiet, resting his forehead towards the cold soil floor.

"Why did God want me to see this, I do not understand his will. It makes me feel miserable, and so cold..."
 

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General
Jun 7, 2003
2.475
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Swedish-Russian borderland. March

A Secret Visit


Knut Bosson didn't know for how long he had travelled the woods. The coldness was freezing as the snow creaked below the horse's hooves. The vast area of trees surrounded them in every direction, and the road to Ladoga seemed endless. It was two weeks since they left Korsholm, the native Finns living there had warned them that travelling the woods was extremely dangerous but Knut hadn't listened. He didn't believe in such creatures as trolls or dwarves wandering the woods, and there were hardly any robbers in these uninhabited parts of Sveariket. If there were they would taste his and his men's hard steel.

However, he seemed to have underestimated an even more dangerous foe, the vast Karelian distances. Riding across Sweden between Stockholm and Lödöse took maybe one and a half week, but here he had rode twice that and there still wasn't a single sign of humanity or civilization. Only pines, spruces, and a hare every now and then. He had also catched a glimpse of some unknown creatures, but they all escaped when the Swedes came riding. Even the huge horse-like beast with an impressive crown of horns ran like a dog when the travellers got near. The men wanted to shoot the elk but Knut had said no, such a majestic beauty ought to be spared. He also thought that if the forest gods that the Finns worshipped existed, it would be best not to wake their fury. Had he said that loud he would've been labelled heretic and burnt alive, though.

They had food for them and the horses for four month, carried on sleighs taken from the Korsholm castle. It was smoked ham, lots of salted fish and some bear meat, along with potatoes. They got water from melting snow and rivers where the ice had already melted, and it was the best water Knut had ever tasted. So much better than the dirty wells of Stockholm or Mariefred. He feared that they had taken the wrong way, gone towards the edge of the world instead of towards lake Ladoga and the Russian part of Karelia. He couldn't tell the men this, cause their morale would go down, but he thought it. It was madness to take the shortcut through the forests really... he should've followed the coast to Viborg, but it was too late to turn back now. Too late to admit that he might have been mistaken.

He wondered what the Rus were like, he had never actually met one. His father had told him about them as rough warriors with horned helmets, attacking anything. They claimed to be christian and believed in God, but they did not acknowledge the supremacy of the supreme pontiff, something Knut found extremely weird. Personally, he found the Finnish pagan gods more interesting and powerful than the bleeding so called Messiah on the cross who seemed unable to defeat a peasant let alone an army led by Ukko, the Finnish thunder god. And why would Jumala, the Finnish name of the Messiah's father, be anything different with such a weak son? But it seemed strange to him that people who acknowledged Jumala did not accept the pope as their spiritual leader. The Swedes didn't make much difference between them and the pagans who worshipped the sun and the moon up in the north anyway. Knut told the people in Korsholm that he was going to Viborg, but that it might take a while. Noone else than his closest and most trustworthy men that he had chosen to follow him knew their real destination, and it must be kept a secret. For his own safety.
 

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Mar 3, 2002
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Falköping Church

Jakob Gertsen was silent almost a full minute after hearing Peters confession. He was close to responding a with the proper words of penance and absolution, if nothing else then to find comfort in the wellknown rite. But this matter was far more serious than anything he had ever heard in a confession before.

Not only was Peter accusing a man of murder and consorting with the Devil, the accused had only recently been elevated to the highest position any man from Scandinavia could dream of attaining within the Church. Silently, Jakob cursed himself for ever accepting the invitation, and arriving here. How much easier it all would be if he had never heard these words. If only he could pretend all was well in Sweden.
But then he cast such thoughts aside. A murderer should never be allowed to become archbishop, and God had chosen him to hear Peters words, just as he had chosen Peter to witness the foul deed. In this matter, Jakob owed it to the murdered man and, more importantly, to God, to act.

And his first act would be to respond.

"My son, I shall not forgive you, for there is nothing to forgive. However, I shall let you in on a closely guarded secret, a secret you should perhaps know allready; no man is infallible. No priest, no bishop, archbishop or even cardinal can make that claim. Even popes have been known to fail from time to times. Only God and his divine son are infallible.
From what you tell me, it would appear His Holiness in Rome made such a mistake when he appointed Henrik to the archbishop and primate of Sweden. One can then ask why God allowed the pope to make such a decission, but that is not for us to know. Who are we to ask Gods decissions?

However, God has also chosen to give you the knowledge to correct this wrong. You witnessed his foul deed and saw his true alligience. Can you allow yourself to remain silent armed with such knowledge? It is not up to me to decide how you shall act. I have only your word for the crimes committed, and allthough I trust you, the accusations are to grave to act upon based on hearsay. No, my son, I am very willing to assist you with whatever action you decide to take, but the decission is yours, and yours alone."
 

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General
Jun 7, 2003
2.475
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Confused, Peter tried to make some sense out of the Danish archbishop's words. He didn't understand, couldn't decipher what the man was trying to say. Why didn't the archbishop want to forgive him, allow him to make good what he had made wrong? He couldn't think clearly, the confession had been far too trying on his mind. Numerous quotes from the bible ran through his head, all of them speaking of the horrors in hell and what sins made immortal souls be punished there. Tradere hujusmodi hominem in interitum carnis, ut spiritus salvus sit in diem Domini.

"No, honoured father. Salvation in heaven is my sole aim, and I am afraid I have spoiled my chances by backtalking who I should love the most: His holy church."

He tried to force his mind to think clearly, to understand.

"Is it not so, honoured father, that God has two realms? One in heaven of course where angels sing and the faithful can enjoy his vicinity, but he has also a realm on Earth. With two realms he has also put two tasks on the men on Earth. Primo, to find and walk the path of the faithful and to make up for your sins when you lose it. Segundo, to watch and maintain His authority in His kingdom upon Earth. If we do that, I think we will find salvation and solace in His embrace and escape the fires of hell."

Peter surprised himself by talking so composedly about religious matters and the church. A church he knew he could no longer be a member of unless a powerful penance was imposed upon him.

"Quomodo assimilabimus regnum Dei aut in qua parabola ponemus illud? What is God's realm? Luke compares it to a mustard seed in his Gospel. It is like a mustard seed, that a man takes from his garden, and it grows and becomes a tree, and all the birds in the sky can build nests in its branches. The threefold meaning of this quote is well known: Allegoria, Moralis, Anagoge. The mustard seed as the Church, Christ, and Faith, equally united into a holy trinity. A trinity we pledge alliegance to as believing christians"

Peter thought of what he had just said, tried to make sense out of his own words. It was as if God had taken away his ability to think clearly, and his thoughts were running through his head like restless butterflies at night trying to find somewhere to hide. The quietness was pressing, he couldn't let go of the thought that there could be someone out there who listened at them. Cogito, ergo Deus est?.

"How can I best serve all three, when my thoughts are not clear and the interests seems to be conflicting? I have prayed to God to give me strength, but God does not listen to sinners. No, honoured father, please. Impose a penance upon me and I shall do what you say, however painful it might be to my flesh or soul. Tradere hujusmodi hominem in interitum carnis, ut spiritus salvus sit in diem Domini."
 

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Mar 3, 2002
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What was wrong with this man? How could the Swedish priest think he had sinned, when all he had done was to witness his superior commit a crime? How could being a wittness to a grievous sin make a man a sinner himself?

It was clear Peter desired absolution and penance. That much Jakob could understand. If the Swede really thought God had deserted him, his desire to be forgiven was understandable and commendable. But how could Jakob be Gods tool in forgiving, when there was nothing to forgive?
Two solutions presented themself. The first was to lie. To hand out some punishment, a harsh one to satisfy the poor soul, and pretend absolution had been given. But Jakob could not make himself do so. A soul called out to him for aid, and he could not bring himself to deny the grace he had the power to give. And lying, forgiving in Gods name what he could and should not forgive, would help neither of their eternal souls.

The second solution was almost as easy, but held far more appeal. It was nowhere ideal, but nothing was in this sorry mess Jakob found himself entangled in. At least this would allow him to both return home to Lund, there to await what other events would unfold, and to claim he had done his best to bring justice to Sweden.
The more he thought about it, the better an idea it was, and Jakob almost sighed with relief as he answered the desperate Peter.

"My son. Your loyalty is torn and your son is great. To great, I fear, for a man of my humble status to forgive. Only those who truly had Gods guidiance can hope to find the correct answer to your dilemma.
Absolution is withheld, but penance will be given. And at the end of your journey, absolution will be found.

My son, I charge you to travel to Avignon and Rome, there to retell what you saw to both the Pope and the Pretender. You shall show both the respect and obidience you would to the true Vicar of Christ, and ask Gods absolution from them both. I will write a letter of introduction to both to assist you, but the journey to these places and the audiences and what you say there, shall be your penance.
May Christ protect you and save your soul, for I cannot."


There. He had pushed the problem onto others, and now he only hoped Peter would accept his judgement.
Inside Jakob, a small voice screamed coward, but as the archbishop of Lund started to recitate the prayer, the voice was drowned.
 

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General
Jun 7, 2003
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Falköping

Of course, the holy father! A weak flame of hope was lit in Peter's heart. Who else would have the power to forgive a confused bishop at the edge of the earth than the vicar of christ in Rome? He should've thought of that immediately. So the rest of my life will be spent in a monastery close to His Holiness, he thought. He had never been further away from Skara than Stockholm to the royal councils, what would Rome be like? He had heard of an overwhelmingly rich and christian city, De Civitate Dei.

But why had he mentioned Avignon? Did this man also have dual loyalties? Impossible, this man was the most christian man in Scandinavia! Was it a test? Peter didn't know, and he didn't care at the moment. A pilgrimage would give him a lot of time to think about it later anyway. He thought about the long roads he would wander, the possible salvation he might get and the feeling of being close to God that he might get the chance to experience again.

Peter bowed his head

O my God, I am heartily sorry
for having offended Thee,
and I detest all my sins,
because I dread the loss of Heaven
and the pains of Hell,
but most of all because I
offend Thee, my God,
Who art all-good and deserving
of all my love.
I firmly resolve, with the help
of Thy grace to confess my sins,
to do penance
and to amend my life.

He paused just before he'd pronounce the holy word. The word that would put an end to his misery and dedicate his future life to virgin Mary and Christ.

It was then he heard it, and this time he knew it was real. Benedicte! It wasn't a rat or the wind this time, but the clear sound of the wooden door opening. It terrified him how well he actually heard it, and how well people outside could've overheard their conversation. Judging by the sound, they were four or maybe five men. They were armed, how dare they bring weapons into God's House? The commander asked them in German to seek through the church, and then it became awfully quiet.

He rose his head again and looked at the archbishop, to see if he had heard it too. Then the sound of the door next to them opening broke the pressing quietness and a man appeared where the door had been. He was armed with a halberd and wore the colours of the primate of Sweden. Yellow, blue, and white.

"Peter Kristiansson? You are under arrest for heresy against the church of Sweden and high treason against the archbishop of Uppsala."

The halbardier then looked suspiciously at the other man.

"And you, father, who are you? What's your name and what are you doing in the church in the middle of the night?"
 

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Jakob had heard the door opening, but had assumed it to be a servant of the local priest, doing some chores in the cover of the night, as not to disturb the ceremonies during day. He himself oftn had his servants replace candles or sweep the floor during night.

But when he suddenly found himself confronted with armed men in a House of God, anger and pride overwhelmed his fear. These men, obviously in the service of the Swedish archbishop, would not dare hurt him. He was certain of that.

Rising to his full height, Jakob Gertsen took two steps closer to the guard, and declared in a loud and proud voice.

"I am Jakob Gertsen, archbishop of Lund and primate of Denmark. My business here is between God and me. You, however, have brought weapons into the House of the Lord, a sin for which you shall seek forgiveness. Leave, and take your weapons with you, or your soul will find eternal damnation in the Flames of Hell!!"

His voice rose, and at the end, he was almost shouting at the guard, not even noticing the mans weapon as a danger, but only seeing it as a defilement of the church.
 

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General
Jun 7, 2003
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7
Falköping

More men who heard the shouting appeared behind the halbardier in the tiny doorpost leading into the small room, all of them were armed. With a trained eye he closed his ears and watched the room while waiting for the archbishop to quit shouting. It was tiny, a perfect hide out for heretic practices in the heart of the House of God, he thought. As far away from the door he could come, Peter Kristiansson sat in monk clothes like an apathetic child, staring out in the empty air with an afraid look on his eyes. He had apparently reacted totally contrary to how the self proclaimed "archbishop" had reacted. None of them could escape, the room which had served as an armory in the early days was partly underground and surrounded by thick walls.

Soon he got tired of listening of the man's blatant lies and decided to show the monk who was in command here.

"For heaven's sake father, shut your mouth or taste my steel." he bellowed. "You dishonour the house of God just as much yourself by bringing a heretic into it and then screaming as if we had desecrated the holy altar itself! I do not know who you are or why you're here but I know one thing: the archbishop of Lund is nowhere in whole Västergötland and thus you are not who you say you are. You will follow us to Skara and perhaps the rack will make you more cooperatable. Christ..."

He stepped aside and let the men enter the room, ready to take care of the two unfaithful men. The last one blocked the small doorpost while three people arrested Jakob Gertsen and two more taking care of the quiet bishop. Their hands were tied together hard with a piercingly thin rope but still hard as if it was made of rope. Then they were led out of the room and the church like the criminals they were. The guard who had first discovered them supervised everything with a satisfied smile on his lips. The Lord will be pleased, he thought and didn't primarly refer to God but rather to his own Lord, the one who fed him and made sure he had somewhere to sleep. Henrik Karlsson, the archbishop of Uppsala.
 
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Mar 3, 2002
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Jakob had never prayed for a martyrium. In fact, he was quite satisfied with living in safer times than when men like Absalon had risked their lives bringing Gods words to the heathens, and he had never particular envied those who fought for the Lord in pagan lands further along the Baltic.
But he did not fear death, either. He knew, with the certaincy only faith can bring, that he had no unforgiven sins, and that he had served the Lord to the best of his abilities, and far better than most. If these men tortured him, every second on the rack would mean a decade his soul would be spared purgatory, and allthough not eager to save his soul suffering this way, and allthough he would not welcome the pain, he did, intelectually, not fear it.

His body, however, seemed to betray his faith. His plans to oppose the men, and force them to use force against him, was crushed when he found he his arms would not obey his commands.
With a voice far more quiet than before, this time holding sadness for the folly of men rather than anger, the archbishop of Lund allowed himself to be taken prisoner.
"I see my words cannot reach you, and for that, and for the effect that will have on your souls destiny, I am truly sorry. However, you seem to act on your earthly lords bidding, and that is commendable.
However, know that should you lay a man on the Church on the rack, especially the primate of Denmark, I, Jakob Gertsen, God will surely punish your soul to the darkest pits of Hell. Spare yourself such pains, and treat me with the dignity my position commands."
 

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General
Jun 7, 2003
2.475
7
Skara


Skara was close to Falköping, and the trip only took one day. Still, it was the longest day in Peter's life. Peter was alone in a quite large cage with wooden bars, Jakob had been allowed to travel with the guards in the carriage, as long as he gave his word that he would not attempt to flee. How dared the archbishop to arrest him, not to mention Jakob Gertsen! He couldn't believe that the archbishop had ordered that, what had Peter done? Does he know? He had no reason to suspect anything. They'd probably be questioned by the cathedral chapter, lead either by the dean or the archbishop himself. Would they find him guilty? This was a mistake, and Peter would let Henrik know what he thought about it once they met. Arresting two men of God like this?!

No, this was his own fault and he had only himself to blame. Peter was the reason Jakob had come to Falköping without telling anyone and was now a prisoner with unknown identity accused of collaborating with heretics. Peter must have somehow blown his cover during the trip to Falköping or while he was waiting for the archbishop. Peter was a heretic. He had ordered the burning and decpitation of many heretics as bishop, but never did he think he would become one himself. And such a heretic too. God has truly abondoned me, he thought. The church is the sword of God and He has sent the whole church to arrest me and my company, even if it's the archbishop of Denmark, he thought. Was it God who had told Henrik where they had their meeting? Peter didn't find that at all unlikely. He was a heretic now, no better than the pagans in Lapland worshipping their drums and shamen. Peter reluctantly bowed his head in prayor, unsure whether God would be offended or appeased by such an act by an unfaithful.

***​

"Look at the heathen bishop, praying to his satanistic Lord to help him escape God's wrath." a man said in the front of the carriage, but Peter was too focused to hear him. It was one of the men who had blocked the doorway while Jakob and Peter were arrested, he had broad shoulders and a muscular body, probably descending from a farmer's or a blacksmith's family. His men nodded and one of them picked up a stone and threw at the kneeling man but Peter took no notice of them. He kept his head low in prayor, mumbering the words to himself.

"Hey, you wanna know something? God doesn't listen to heretic scum like you so your prayors are in vain." He said, picked up a stick and poked the bishop through the wooden bars so that he fell over, unable to get up again with his hands tied behind his back. This triggered a laughter among the men and some of them followed his example. The man, whose name was Arn Haraldsson, had always disliked the bishop and found immense pleasure of finally being able to express it. To be in charge of the most powerful and rich bishopric of Sweden he was way too zealous and naive. The man was the reason Skara had lost the archbishop election to someone outside Västergötland and he kept buying false relics and financing expensive pilgrimage's with the church's money.

"Wake up you dog, we've arrived. You should know where we are. You're the bishop after all." The guard put emphasis on the last sentence in general and the word bishop in particular. Peter finally cancelled his prayor and when his eyes had got used to the bright sunlight he immediately recognized that they were in Skara, outside the cathedral. He also understood why the guard wanted to emphasize that he was the bishop, a larger and larger crowd had begun to surround the carriages. Mumbering was heard from them, and Peter guessed that they were discussing if this really could be a bishop, and what he had done to deserve this treatment. They probably weren't sure about which bishop it was either, but rumours would surely begin to circulate. A man came out of the cathedral and whispered something in Arn's ear, and reluctantly he covered the cage with a black cloth. Peter closed his eyes and fell asleep in the darkness that followed.
 
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General
Jun 7, 2003
2.475
7
A letter arrives to the royal castle in Stockholm

Anno Domini 1384

Unto His Majesty King Albrekt av Sverige, the king of Sweden and heir of Mecklenburg

Gloria in altissimis Deo et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis!


God be praised, for today He has showed us something rotten in the Swedish church, an abscess of bubonic plague on the Holy Mother herself. For too long have Peter Kristiansson misused his high office to exercise heretic practices inside the sacred walls of the Skara cathedral, the Falköping church and who knows what others of God's houses. His heretical practices has soiled the very core of the church and the fact that he doesn't even want to admit to it in front of God makes him even more despisable in His eyes.

For this his immortal soul will be punished by God at the gates of heaven, and his body will be punished this year by the cathedral chapter of Skara who has been betrayed for such a long time. I invite your Majesty to visit Skara and watch the trial to make sure it's done fairly, and also help the chapter and myself to decide for a punishment rough enough that noone will ever think of repeat such acts in front of God again. I also invite you to help Us in our difficult task to appoint new candidates for the bishop seat of Skara when the punishment has been exercised.

Signed and sealed by his own hand in Skara,

Pax Vobiscum,

Henricus Caroli, Episcopus Ubsaliensis, Prima Suecia
 

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Jun 7, 2003
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Skara

"It's time. Wake up, scum."

Peter slowly opened his eyes. It was dark around him, he was in a windowless room. He was familiar with it, he had been there for a week at least. The suffering he had experienced was greater than anything he could've possibly imagined when he was still bishop of the Skara diocese. This must've been how Jesus felt, Peter thought but immediately stopped and cursed himself. Comparing himself, a heretic, with the holy Son was a blasphemy. His suffering was well-deserved, Jesus' were volountarily brought on him.

A resounding thick ear from the guard made him come back to reality.

"Hurry, damnit. The chapter does not want to wait."

So he was going to be trialled in front of the chapter eh? He found it slightly ironic that his former companions would pass a verdict upon him, but he wasn't bishop Xtianus anymore. He was Peter, a heretic. He sighed and rose, dressed in the same monk clothes that he had worn when he was arrested in the church of Falköping. They stunk and were ripped, he was ashamed of being brought in front of the chapter in such an inproper clothing. The guard seemed to share his concerns and looked at him with a dissatisifed expression and turned up his nose.

"You will have to bath, you can't be brought in front of the chapter being dirtier than a dog on a field of mud."

Quietly and constantly praying he walked together with the guard. He had once owned these cells and everything between Vättern and Skagerack. He was bathed roughly by a large lady, the strongest Peter had ever seen, and then dressed in a simple shirt and pants of wool. He felt like a stranger in his own city and now he wished he had paid more attention to earthly matters instead of putting it all in the hands of the chapter. A carriage brought him to the majestic cathedral, once the largest in Sweden, and he was ushered into it. There was hardly a single cloud on the early spring sky, it was as if the angels were celebrating that another heretic was soon to be put to death.

To Peter's surprise the cathedral was nearly empty. Trials were normally held publically, with almost the whole city population outdoors watching. It was the highlight of the day for many of the burghers who otherwise had quite a dull life with monotonous work for long hours. Was it really possible that the chapter wanted to spare him the shame? The only ones who were there was the cathedral chapter, himself and the guards.

"Welcome, herr Kristiansson."

It was Peder Ärlig, the dean of the cathedral who spoke. Peter looked down to the floor, unwilling to look into the eyes of his former subordinate.

"I believe you know what you are accused for?"

Peter nodded. Flashes of painful memory from the cathedral school came before his eyes. '...some thoughts are dangerous...'. The teacher's words echoed through his head, he was a monk of English origin called Thomas. Peter had been 12 years old, and already recognized as a potential future bishop of Skara. He was bright and fast in the thought, especially in religious questions. Too fast sometimes, Father Thomas had thought and he was the only one in Skara who despised Peter. One day Peter had questioned Father Thomas' interpretation of and Thomas had become furious. He still had scars from that night's blows from the whip, and if a good nun had not come to his rescue he would've been dead by now. Why didn't I listen? he thought quietly

"We wanted to let you know that your trial has been postponed, the king and the archbishop will judge you and they are waiting for response from a higher authority."

Did he hear some kind of compassion in the dean's voice? Or was it mockery? It was hardly compassionate to sentence him to another month in that dirty cell he thought embittered. A higher authority... higher than the king and the archbishop? That meant his issue must've been brought up to the pope to ask for his councelling. Rome! Rome, where the Danish archbishop had charged upon him to go on a pilgrimage. However, I shall let you in on a closely guarded secret, a secret you should perhaps know allready; no man is infallible. No priest, no bishop, archbishop or even cardinal can make that claim.. This was one of those mistakes, Peter thought. The archbishop had made a mistake when he agreed to meet Peter in Falköping, and it was Peter who had made influenced him to do it. The penance upon him was also a mistake, he established with sorrow. His sins were unforgivable.

"Have you understood?"

Peter nodded and mumbered "yes", and then he was pulled back by the guard who had given him the thick ear in the cell.

"Definately guilty" he vaguely heard a priest say behind him. Concerned but consenting noddings of the other members followed.
 
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