.Following the tremendously long section on the tribes of the fae, Hunt, whose text we are following, narrows his focus to a single person: the damned soul of Jan Tregeagle.
There is not a lot known about the life of Tregeagle. He is said to be one of the family that owned Trevorder, near Bodmin. He lived a dissolute life, exchaning one sin for another, until his death.
To save him from damnation, a prior, properly paid, indulged his sins and buried him in a church where Satan could not claim him. This did not last him until Judgement, however, because a lawyer called his animate corpse to testify in a court case about a piece of land on which Tregeagle had falsified records. Afterward the lawyer abandoned him to the judge, and the prior who had aided him so much during life.
The churchmen could not merely surrender a soul to the Devil, so they gave Tregeagle an eternal penance. He needed to empty a bottomless pool (Dosemay, on Bodmin Moor, which is said to link to Falmouth Harbour) with a limpet shell with a hole in it, never resting lest Satan take him. Hunt notes this punishment is the same as that given to the daughters of Danaus in Greek mythology. After a time, Tregeagle was driven from the Pool by a terrible, possibly infernal, storm, and fled the Black Hunter until he reached St Breoc’s Church, and shoved his head into the window. Demons could hurt him, but not drag him away, and so he screamed under their torture for many weeks.
This terrified the locals, so he was assigned a new task, to make ropes of sand on a beach near Padstow. Eventually he terrified the locals there so much that Saint Petroc chained him and took Tregeagle to a beach near Ella’s Town, which was then a rich port, where his penance was to carry sand away until the beach is bare rock. Eventually Tregeagle was tripped by a demon and his sack of sand formed a bar across the harbour of the town, destroying its economy. He was then sent to Porthcurnow Cove near Lands End, to sweep the beach’s sand around the headland into a cave.
He is still there, other than when he is forced from his task by the Black Hunter, and flees his wish-hounds across Cornwall. His cries are louder than the Atlantic gales. They are louder than the wind whistling through the cairns of Bodmin. His screams of hope, pain, fear and frustration may be heard anywhere in Cornwall.
Barguests, and other hellhounds, and already known in Ars Magica, but in Cornwall they are strongly related with the figure of Tregeagle and the Black Hunter who chases him. to the dread blast of his bugle. The demonic figure, also called the Midnight Hunter, is served by headless hounds, which nonetheless howl. The cry of these hounds is fatal to mortal dogs. In Cornwall and Devon these are often called “yell hounds” of “wish hounds”. This comes from a local dialect word, whist, which means melancholy and supernatural. Whistman is a term that’s suitable for magi, as some writers mistakenly think the word is related to “weird” or “wise” or “Woden”.
Tregeagle, in one variant of the story, cannot abide the presence of babies. This may be because they are sacred innocents. A person carrying a baby is proof against his powers, even if they merely scoop up the child of a random nearby person.
In another story Dosemay Pool was an infernal regio, a castle of carnality that Tregeagle traded his soul for access to for a hundred years. Time passed without him noticing while he was there, however. At the end of his time, the Hunter came, killed him with a bolt of flame, and now chases his ghost for sport.
Hunt notes that, in addition to Domesay Pool, wish hounds are often reported in the valley of Dewerstone and in Cheny Downs.
Tregeagle seems a potent spirit, so a covennt with a weak Aegis might serve as a new refuge for him. Does this lead to a demonic siege? Tormenting demons being more common in the neighbourhood? Can the characters get him out within asking saints to come in and perform miracles, damaging the magical Aura?
Pardoning sin for money is a sensitive topic. Some Catholics think the way we talk about it in English has been inflated by Protestant propaganda. It’s clear that the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 stamps down on what it considers abuses. The doctrine of the superabundance of the merit of Jesus and the saints is developing in the game period, but can only be traced to about 1230, textually.
Regardless of the precise mechanism of pardoning, I still like the fact that pardoners are called quaestores. I’m tempted to design and NPC bandit leader who thought a Hermetic quaesitor was a pardoner, tried to rob him, and then was hired after being defeated, because the quaesitor thought it was hilarious.
There seem to be a batch of lawyers in this story who can call up the dead, despite Christian burial. Is this some sort of tradition of Infernalists? Is Tregeagle really a faerie impersonating the sinner? Similarly, the priests seem to be good at controlling his spirit. Are they all saints, or is there a technique employed?
Could a modern sinner be damned in much the same way as Tregeagle? A nobleman or magus, for example?
If a magical battle disturbs the site of his labour, such that Tregeagle needs a new task, what might it be?
The center of House Tytalus is just across the Channel. If one of those magi wants to chase the Midnight Hunter, what trouble could that bring?