Year 1207-- The Trial of the Argent Ring Cabal
Date: 1207 RE
Outcome: Execution of the Argent Ring Cabal (dubious as to completeness), the Taresson Hunt.
Parties: Eastern Trempa, Western Trempa, The Argent Ring Cabal, The Left Hand of the Redwood Throne
Principals: Accuser Resinald Taresson, the Duke-Regent of Eastern Trempa, The Duke of Western Trempa
In 1207, in the Duchy of Eastern Trempa, a group of ritualists were arrested by the Left Hand of the Redwood Throne after traveling from Western Trempa with their homunculi in tow. The seven ritualists came to Eastern Trempa after hearing rumors of a previously unknown ritual, the Blessing of the Silver Heart, that empowered homunculi for a short time. The ritualists found that the reports they were investigating were the bait for a cleverly laid trap set by the Left Hand to lure ritualists out of the safety of Western Trempa, where ritualism is tolerated despite the wishes of the Redwood Throne. While the Redwood Throne (through Accuser Resinald Taresson, the agent of the Left Hand who organized the ruse) claimed it was merely enforcing the law of the Principalities, others saw it as an attempt to spread their influence in Eastern Trempa, in the hopes of convincing the Emperor that it should become a Prince-Bishopric instead of naming a new Duke to rule. Though such grumbling was common in Western Trempa and Luzerne City, it was mainly kept private for fear of attracting the attention of the Redwood Throne.
The seven ritualists of the Argent Ring Cabal and their three homunculi were taken by Accuser Taresson from Eastern Trempa to the Prince-Bishopric of Brezha, which is firmly under the control of the Redwood Throne. The Redwood Throne claimed this was necessary due the lack of a properly appointed ruler in Western Trempa and for security reasons, but opponents of the Redwood Throne saw it as the Redwood throne ensuring a guilty verdict. The Duke of Western Trempa filed a grievance with the Emperor against the Redwood Throne for taking his subjects for trial and removing them from his domain without consultation. The Emperor did not intercede, citing that the ritualists were indeed breaking the law, and were not in Western Trempa when they were apprehended. The Duke-Regent of Eastern Trempa tried to free the ritualists through other political means, but was not successful. The reason for his personal interest is not commonly known, but most suspect the cabal had been working for the Duke-Regent. Wilder tales claim that one of the members of the cabal was one of the Duke-Regent's bastards. The Duke-Regent of Eastern Trempa tried to travel to Brezha to attend the trial, but was turned away at the border by the Redwood Throne, and threatened with excommunication if he continued to interfere. Most nobles in the Principalities view this as an attempt to discredit and weaken the Duke-Regent of Easten Trempa by the Redwood Throne in the hopes that the Emperor would replace him, or at least finally force the Duchy of Eastern Trempa to enforce the laws against ritual magic.
Once the accused had arrived in Maergin's Hold (so named for the Redwood Throne crusader who claimed the castle from the ritualists who had been living in it in 239 RE), they were imprisoned in the dungeons and interrogated at length over the next few weeks. This process involved a wide variety of abuse and torture. One of the more gruesome methods involved dismembering the homunculi into the smallest component pieces possible, while still keeping them alive. Through the weeks of torture, a number of confessions were gained from the captives, forming a narrative where the cabal was heavily involved with creatures of shadow and still darker forces. The process of interrogation stopped once an Accuser accidentally killed one of the ritualists during torture, and left his body too near to one of the largely dismembered homunculi. The homunculus1, being in possession of a single arm, sewed the limbs from the corpse to his own, and managed an escape through the sewers of Maergin's Hold, freeing one of the ritualists2, in the process. This escape was quickly covered and denied by the Redwood Throne, and indeed, when the Argent Ring was brought to trial before the Prince-Bishop of Brezha there were seven ritualists and three homunculi. Whether the escapees were recaptured, or whether some random innocents were pressed into joining the accused in order to maintain the infallibility of the Redwood Throne, is a subject for debate.
The trial of the Argent Ring Cabal was public, short, and one-sided. The accusations were read, the confessions entered into the record (Some of the accused protested, claiming that they only confessed due to torture, but they were quickly silenced), and the punishment of death by fire was quickly meted out to the human members of the accused. The homunculi were drawn and quartered, and then burned in separate pyres to ensure that they did not somehow recover from the execution. The Redwood Throne then used the apprehension of the cabal in Eastern Trempa was an excuse to dispatch several bands of Left Hand agents, including Alexei Markhov and others3+, under the command of Accuser Taresson, to ferret out other dangerous cabals in the area. One other cabal was found, the Order of the Oak, but most of its members4,5,6+ escaped capture. Two free homunculi were found hiding in the hills of Eastern Trempa, and were burnt at the stake without trial. These deaths are in addition to the executions of at least two score suspected sympathizers, mystery cultists, and other undesirables caught by the Left Hand during their investigations. This purge of Eastern Trempa is now called the Taresson Hunt by the locals, and Accuser Taresson figures in their stories as a perpetrator of a great many evils against the people. Nonetheless, his effectiveness in Eastern Trempa earned Accuser Taresson his recent promotion to Grand Accuser, the leader of the Left Hand in the Principalities.