Hagiography of St. William the Penitent

William Avery was born under the shadow of Sunken Sorrow on the banks of the Mastow, third or fourth child of a Knight in service to the Old Count Telford in the year of the Lion’s Age 440. No heir to title of his own, his family was at least as relieved as it was worried when he showed the academic promise and self-confidence that would propel him to the halls of the Dextera Inflamatio.

A surprisingly average apprentice, William was a natural target for the depredations of his fellow students. He learned to persevere through the attempts to fuddle his magic and deny him access to resources by creating alliances with weaker, less ambitious students who were also being overlooked by the guild.

[Master Aropsis once in his cups explained to this writer that William probably misunderstood the entire purpose of the guild in the first place and should never have been accepted.]

This alliance building caused a shift in the apprentice dormitory that culminated in a battle where three apprentices died. Fearing punishment, William fled.

He found himself in the chapel of a Fortress Monastery repenting dearly of his participation in the wicked ways of the mage guild and resolved to join the monks in their contemplation of holy knowledge. In an effort to show true repentance and to placate the mages he cut off his own right hand and had it delivered to the Tower along with an Oath to keep the secrets of the Mages.

The Fire Mages put up a few symbolic protests, but as William was not a prominent figure and had already garnered local sympathy for his dramatic act, they didn’t pursue him with any public vigor. He was, however, quickly shipped to Port Melandir to live in anonymous obscurity in the monastery there.

William was not idle, joining the ranks of the Cyanahim and taking fully to their program of watching and influencing in a subtle way. He realized that by talking Reason to the people of the town and reassuring them of what magic could and could not do, he could offer them alternatives to the guilds and less anxiety about what the future would hold. A group of students at the University began to come to him for advice and to provide him with alms.

On the morning of the first day of Lion’s Age 462, Sister Margaret Artificer heard William speaking to others in his cell. Noting to herself that unsupervised visitors were not allowed within the chambers at such an hour entered his cell to remonstrate with him and eject his guests. He was speaking, not to guests, but to three flaming ghosts who hovered around him. William explained that he had been forgiven by his friends who died but would need to atone and rededicate his life to the service of Cyaniel.

He endured the fire and questions of the inquisition for three nights and the ritual of the Nuranihim for three days. He was found pure and sinless at the end of his ordeals and the Three Fiery Friends were resolved.

William took up the cause of the priesthood with more vigor, showing strength of character where once there was only sensitivity, moral certainty where there once was mere conscience. His followers began to perform like the knives of Cyaniel they were always meant to be, doing their tasks under cover of other activities. Mage apprentices were hard to come by that Summer and the church gained many new priests.

It was in 463 when the followers of William took up the Cards and began to wander the region, teaching the workings of Fate to all who would listen. The stories of the cards helped the most illiterate peasant to remember the tales of the Testimonium and the lessons contained inside. The friars accepted no money for these holy miracles, but would always accept an invitation to dine, so as to learn more about the homes of the people to whom they spoke.

In 465, the rumblings of war had begun again. A Njord fleet approached the Port and some of the Counts had been slow to respond to the general call. Melandir was to be defended by everyone from the Njord threat, but Rogalia is what it is and advantage was gained at the expense of all.

Seeing that this was the place Fate had put him, William ascended the Hill of Apples overlooking the harbor and began to pray. Five of his brethren had come with him, all secretly ‘sparks’ who had been concealed from divination magic by the power of Cyaniel. Their prayers reached up to heaven and the Five Companions pulled the hoods of their Order over their heads and raced down the hill towards the invading fleet. William for his part stood upon the hill and began to chant Words of Power that he had promised never to repeat in his life again, all those years ago.

It is said that day that he completed a spell of such power – combining fire, earth, water, and air – that it stopped the fleet from reaching the port while his Companions slaughtered the captains of the ships that approached, rising up from the water like the face of Judgement with knives that glowed like fire. Witnesses report that William’s hand had been restored to him by the power of Benalus Himself and a few believed it had been replaced by the paw of the White Lion.

[Master Aropsis has drunkenly insisted to this writer that such a spell was impossible and must be the mad ramblings of a fool. ‘One cannot,’ he shouted before he could control himself ‘put all of those elements in one working.’ When asked to explain himself further, Master Aropsis excused himself from my company and has not returned any further communication.]

The city was saved by these efforts and the grace of Benalus and William preached for another fortnight before he was found dead in the Chapel of St. Werner near the University having been drowned, flayed, burned, and crushed. No implements of murder were ever found and his right hand was freshly removed. The church never found the assassins nor were the mages guilds ever available to help investigate.

Upon the sealed testimony of the Nuranihim and Sepharahim who questioned him and the Companions who assisted him in his working, he was lionized on the first day of Autumn, Lion’s Age 475. His Order of the Stars was sanctioned by the Pontifex to continue his work within the law of the Church and the Emperor.

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