April 8, 1224
<u>Email Content: Simone</u>
The backwards thrust of a blade of pure eldritch fire cut into the heavy velvet curtain that hung just inches away from the Scarlet Clothed Witch. Its heavy material gave away like butter to the blade’s witch-born fire, as angry red and violet flames burst from its thick folds to run along its length and width. Unchecked, this fire would prove the undoing of our team’s valiant rescue attempt.
Undaunted by the fire our fearless Warriors and Warrior-priests closed in on the Witch. Even with her fell magic rolling off her in waves of hate, she could not stand against the masterful and holy onslaught our team mustered against her. Catching a final blow across the back of her neck, she crumpled to the ground, the witch magic failing her and her strength depleted. Etienne was the first of us to notice the change in the woman behind the mask.. a prisoner, it would seem, but different from the many we found twisted and controlled behind other masks…. this one was savable!
“You are safe now.” We heard Etienne whisper in the girl’s ear, his voice carrying so all could hear it the way that only a master entertainer could affect. He smoothly removed her mask with a trained flick of his wrist while supporting her with the other. It was uncanny how the young man could mature with such alacrity and show such sagacity in a moment, then revert back to the hubris of youth in a blink of an eye. The mask fell away to reveal the face of a young and frightened girl and Sword Master Valerius gasped.
She wept. “I have done such horrible atrocities.” Her voice was strangled and shaken; tears flowed freely from her distraught and repentant eyes.
“Simone?” Valerius said.
The young girl looked up to his verbal coax, confusion joining the gauntlet of other emotions riding her expressions.
A look from us all passed to the Sword Master, then back to the girl, the revelation made clear as a new perception took hold of us all.
"Do I know you?" she tearfully murmurs. Despite Morgoth's timely extinguishing of the burning curtain, the light is warmly lit by the flickering golden flames that dance still on Sir Bernardine's blade. He cuts quite a figure, his eyes full of fire and his lips compressed into a tight line – an angel of wrath.
Valerius executes a quick courtly bow, trying at the same time to reassure the terrified young girl with his smile.
“Forgive our manners m'lady… I am Lucius Valerius Avitus, one-time servant of Tiberium, and most recently in service to Her Excellency the Countess Liriana DuCharme. My companions and I were sent to investigate recent happenings in Blamont, when we learned of the disappearance of Simone Broussard from her father, and swore to do whatever we could to see her safe… I assume you are the young lady in question?”
Etienne shakes his head as the sword master attempts to flash the girl a smile while clearly gritting his teeth through the pain of his wound. His bow is awkward due to the wicked gash in his side, and he's still dripping blood on the ground. Etienne steps to his side, "I can see Eru's plan so clearly now. Let my enlightenment fill your body and soul." he says, playing the role of the newly converted. “I confess, I preferred the look on Brother Cedric's face when he thought the ability was being stolen from him.” Etienne does his best to mimic the monk's prayers which grant him a healing touch, and reaches out to Master Valerius. The healing light glows briefly as Valerius’s flesh knits itself back together.
Simone looks around, as if still slightly disoriented. Her face is smudged with dark iron powder, with two muddy tear tracks running from her eyes down her face. Combined with her bright green eyes, she looks a bit comical – or would, had she not nearly slain several of you just moments ago. Perhaps unconsciously, she edges closer to Etienne as she haltingly answers.
"Yes, I am Simone Broussard."
Valerius smiles again… this time mostly to himself…”I'm touched by Etienne's concern, and the healing that he delivers is truly is wonderful… But I was raised as both a fighting man and a philosopher, by some of the greatest sword master's in all the world… mere physical pain is no more of a distraction to me, than thirst would distract a camel from the Caliphate. Still, the fact that he reacted so quickly to tend to my well being, proves to me that my sword is valued… and thus it is that I smile… but the moment is fleeting, for I would not wish the youth to think that these are not serious matters, or that I do not value his aid.”
The Sword Master looks again to Simone, and suddenly he realizes that his blades are still drawn, and so sheaths them quickly, without even needing to look at the scabbards. He slides the deadly weapons home… and with a gentle voice he says, “Simone… I'm sure that what has happened here was terrifying… but if at all possible, I need you to be brave for just a little bit longer… If we are to put an end to the evil forces that have acted both against you and against this Abbey… in order to make sure that you are safe… we need to know what happened to you, and how you came to be here… Do you think you can do that for us?"
Although it appears that the danger has passed, Sir Bernadine remains vigilant. He allows the tip of his sword to droop only slightly as he scans the room for more of the demonic women. He doesn’t seem to notice Simone's obvious anxiety as he mumbles under his breath about demons lurking in every corner…
Simone looks confused by Valerius's question. She looks to Etienne.
Etienne slides his mask off, and gives her a look of understanding. "Its all right, Simone, just rest. It’s all right, now." He smiles, "Therese has been worried sick about you. Let's get you home."
Simone nods, the tears not flowing quite as fast now. "I'm just so tired," she says.
Etienne says a quick prayer…something about the sainted sisters…and a healing glow accompanies his touch, mending some of Simone’s wounds. "You've been through a lot. We won't let anyone else hurt you."
For a moment Valerius looks truly sad, but his gaze turns to Etienne and hardens to steel mixed with regret (a new alloy!). "I'm sorry Etienne, but we can't take Simone home… not yet… not until we know that it will be safe for her, and safe for this Abbey…. and much as I hate to cause Simone any further pain that the memories might bring… she is still our best witness to what took place here…. we need to know what she knows… we need to know what happened… so that we can end it, and make everyone safe…I'm sorry Simone, but can you do that for us? Can you help us end this nightmare? Can you tell us what you remember about what happened to you, and how you came to be here?"
“We also must find the stable boy” Brother Cedric adds.
"I can't be certain…” Valerius continues, ”but given that Simone is here, and that there were ‘men under an enchantment’ brought here to work the iron… I predict a fairly good chance that we might just find Rufus chained outside with the other men working the forge… But perhaps that is another mystery that Simone can help us solve…" and with that, Valerius tries to give Simone another encouraging smile… as if talking about something simple might help get things started for her.
"Rufus is dead," she says in a leaden voice.
Etienne pulls her in toward him protectively, wrapping his cloak about her shoulders. "Time is something she needs, and something we can give her. No one will stay at this abbey, and no one can make the journey to Blamont alone. Give her some time."
"Before we go…” Valerius counters, “we need to know if there are any other masked women, or other monsters, in the Abbey…"
Etienne looks to the trembling young girl, "Simone? Do you know if there is anything else we need to be wary of here?"
"I think the monsters are all gone.” Simone replies. “The other monsters. We have to get away from here before they return!"
Etienne looks to the others. "Agreed. We need to get these people to safety."
"Very well,” the sword master agrees reluctantly, “let’s go bring the Nun's up from below and tell them that we're escorting them out…. they can gather up anything they might need for the journey to Blamont, including any relics that the Abbey might have possessed before we go… that way they cannot be used in any rituals… and while the sisters are doing that, we can go free the men in the courtyard…Does that sounds like a good plan to everyone?"
Morgoth’s deep tenor voice echoes slightly, originating far back toward the entrance of the room. “Well, the upper floors look pretty structurally unsound. We’ve walked through the whole ground level, except for the rectory portions that are completely gutted and collapsed. Overall, there may be some habitable rooms upstairs, although I am not certain how to reach them. Other than that, the bell tower is the only place we haven’t looked. Based on its appearance, it might have a narrow wooden ledge up there, at best – highly unlikely to house fugitives. I don’t see why we can’t retrieve the others and prepare to leave. Sir Bernardine?
"What is creating these monsters if not Simone?” Sir Bernadine replies, his sword still aglow with angry golden fire. “Perhaps we have more work here."
"This wasn't Simone's doing." Etienne interjects quickly, "And while I agree there is undoubtedly more to be done, it's likely not here, and it’s certainly not now."
"As you say,” the Templar replies gruffly, reviewing the grounds in his mind trying to think where more prisoners might be being held. After a moment of silence, he continues "I concur, Morgoth. I doubt prisoners are anywhere that we have not seen. The architecture suggests it unlikely that there is more basement than what we saw, the upstairs is largely inaccessible and unsound to be sure, and the belfry couldn't hold many and would be hard to reach given the poor conditions of the prisoners. I believe we have seen everywhere prisoners are being kept. My only other concern is whether there are secret chambers used by whoever is responsible for this."
"If there are secret chambers anywhere within the Abbey,” Valerius comments, turning from Simone to address the Templar, “ most likely one of the sisters will know of it… so let us start there as I suggested… and while they gather what little they can for the journey, we can go free the men in the courtyard."
Morgoth walks over to Brother Cedric. “Brother Cedric. If I may, I would like to examine the mask taken from Simone. May I?”
Cedric hands the mask to Morgoth.
Morgoth wraps the mask in a large swath of canvas and places it carefully in his shoulder satchel. “Come child. Let’s get you cleaned up and make sure you are unharmed; some ailments take more than magical healing to mend.” Morgoth gathers up the girl from Etienne in one grandfatherly sweep of his robed arms and ushers her from the room. He glances briefly over his shoulder as he crosses the doorway into the hall. “Sir Bernadine, Master Bertrand. Would you please be so kind as to secure the Nuns below their freedom? I am certain they are ready to leave this place for an alternative shelter. Sword Master Valerius and Master Thomas, I believe we have some gentlemen that need freeing outside. Their forced employment is at its end for the time being. Would you see to it, please? Etienne. We will need some way to transport all of the nuns below. In their condition I don’t believe they will travel well on foot nor on horseback. Please see what you can find around the Abby stables and courtyards outside. Perhaps there is a large wagon we can hitch up to our spare horses in order to make the journey less arduous for these unfortunate men and women.” With a gentle squeeze on her shoulders to reassure her, Morgoth ushers Simone out the room. “Brother Cedric,” Morgoth calls back, his voice echoing from the hallway as the pair’s footsteps clearly indicate they are moving quickly to the outside, “it would be wonderful if you would join me, please.”
"Good plan.” Sir Bernardine follows Morgoth and Simone closely, sword at the ready. “Except that I must insist that I stay with you, and send Brother Cedric down for the nuns. Eru has dictated clearly that I accompany you, I believe to protect you, and I would not ignore his direction." With his sword still out in case of unexpected opposition in this god-forsaken place, he steps towards the entrance, hoping to signal everyone to move.
“Yes, of course.” The scholar’s voice echoes from outside the hallway, rapidly receding.
Etienne stares for a moment after the elderly scholar, who disappeared out the door. "I didn't know he could move that fast." he murmurs to himself before turning to the others, "While I respect Monsieur Manhew's…er…experience…I think I'd be better able to help by releasing the men from their chains. Though someone should find something to help transport these people. With all the iron they've gotten here there are bound to be some wagons." Etienne heads for the door, but looks back before he moves through it, "We should all take our cue from Morgoth's haste. I, for one, would rather not be here if 'monsters' do arrive." With that said, he heads out to work on unlocking the men's shackles.
Morgoth ushers Simone to the horses where he can make use of his various supplies: extra water skins, blankets, towels, medicines, herbs… etc. He unrolls a small wedge of fresh mild cheese and a quarter loaf of sweet-bread from his saddle bags and gently presses it into Simone’s hands.
“Here, eat these. They will help you feel better.” His nod is genuine and encouraging. He continues unpacking a water-skin and a glazed ceramic cup. With the deft hands of a man who makes tea at least five times a day, he opens a small wax packet taken from his robes, sprinkles it into the cup and adds the water. The pre-ground mixture of herbs dissolve instantly.. the therma-root component warming the drink just enough to be noticed.
“Its Dew-berry tea, my dear.” He hands her the cup. “It’s quite delicious and compliments sweet bread oh so nicely.” It also has an ingredient that will calm her anxiety. In heavy doses, about ten times what is in the mixture, the Tilia Vulgaris (also known as lime blossom) will act as a mild sedative, so efficiently so, that it used by midwives on their patients that are expected to have a particular painful child birth. The Scholar brushes this fact along with the optimal growing condition, temperature and watering cycle for the herb from his mind as it tries to railroad his thoughts.
Throwing a blanket quickly on the ground he invites her to sit, specifically with her back towards the Abby and Sir Bernadine. “Don’t be shy now… the cheese is excellent and the bread quite divine. You’ll need your strength for the ride home.”
After a few moments, Morgoth tries to get her talking.
“I know your father is quite worried about you, Simone. Why did you leave Blamont?”
Simone eats rather stoically with a grimace on her face and evinces no pleasure at the food or the tea. As Morgoth reaches to clean her face, she shrinks away from being touched.
She takes a few moments to compose herself. A struggle plays out across her face, and despair seems to win. "I had to," she finally answers, "before I hurt anyone."
“Are you still injured?” Morgoth says, looking for any aliments or physical injury that may not have been healed by Etienne’s spell.
The Templar silently tears his eyes away from scanning the area, and scrutinizes Simone critically. After a long moment, he nods slightly and returns to keeping watch.
Not seeing an answer coming soon, Morgoth reaches in his pack for his Healer’s kit.“With you permission, Simone, I can treat your other injuries, make sure they do not get infected and apply an ointment that will speed your recovery.”
Simone nods curtly.
Mogoth proceeds to treat her as promised and once done he replaces the Healer’s kit back in his pack with a barely perceivable sigh.“Simone. You said you ‘had to leave Blamont before you hurt anyone.’ Did you have the mask you were wearing while still in Blamont?”
"No…" Simone says uncertainly.
“Did you hurt Monsieur François Durand, Simone?” Morgoth pays particular attention to how she initially reacts to the name.
"Yes. I made him suffer, and then I killed him." She replies.
Morgoth raises an eyebrow. “Did you have good reason to make him suffer, and then kill him? We found his headless body. Was that also your doing?”
"What would a good reason be?" Simone replied coolly, only a fraction of the sorrow and fear still clinging to her voice.
Sir Bernardine turns back towards the girl, eyes narrowing dangerously, "Perhaps a better question would be, Did you do it of your own volition, or were you under some form of control? "
Morgoth nods his head agreeing with Sir Bernadine. “Yes. That is a much clearer question. Please answer the Templar, Simone.”
"Are those my only choices?" she replies, with a trace more control and perhaps a hint of anger. "I am either a cold-blooded murderess or under some supernatural influence? Despite my best efforts, I've hurt a lot of people, but him? Him I don't regret."
"Then what was your reason for killing him?" Sir Bernardine counters gruffly.
"That he deserved it?" Simone replied.
“Did the late Factor hurt you, Simone?” Morgoth says soothingly. “Is that why he deserved to die?
"Yes, he hurt me. If that were his only transgression, he would deserve a more painful death than he got, but a man capable of that… who knows what he'd done."
Morgoth looks to Simone with genuine empathy. With a slight nod of his head, he decides to let the topic of the late Factor rest and revisit for more specifics later… its either that or let the Inquisitors proceed down that road… it most likely will come to that. Morgoth hopes that is wont. “Tell me about the Mask, Simone. Where did you get it?”
She sighs, shoulders slumping. "I made it."
"Why?" Sir Bernardine asks.
"Why," she says, "why. I think I was possessed by the Devil."
Sir Bernardine’s face goes flat, as he barely controls his annoyance at Simone’s flippant response. "Simone, let me be blunt. We are trying to understand what happened here, and why. Could you please explain? What compelled you to do all of this? Were you acting alone or is there another grander party? Why and how did you create the mask?"
Arriving at the trapdoor, Valerius will knock upon the trapdoor a few times so that the nuns will know that someone is coming, and then proceed downstairs… using one of the lanterns or torches from the area up above…
"Ladies…. you may relax, and rejoice knowing that Eru was with us… the witch with fiery eyes, has fallen, and we believe that all of the masked maidens within the Abbey have been dealt with. However, until we have uncovered all of the villains behind this tragedy, I don't think it's safe for you to remain here… so we're going to escort all of you to the Cathedral at Blamont, once we've freed the men out in the courtyard. However, before we do that, are there any special things that you will need to gather up and take with us to Blamont?"
At this moment Valerius notices that Etienne didn't come along, but rather proceeded directly to the courtyard… The Sword Master whirls around quickly hoping against hope that Etienne is simply at the back of the group… "Etienne! Ahhhh! Pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo…pathice Etienne… MERDA!"
Then realizing that he's standing in front of a group of nuns, Valerius instantly blushes a color much closer to the shade of sunset than his normal tan complexion… He bows quickly…
"Ummm… <Valerius blushes again> “Please forgive my momentary lapse ladies… it seems that one member of our group has gone off on his own to free the men in the courtyard, and I would not see anyone go unescorted in this place… If you could please gather your selves up and come with us directly… we're headed to the courtyard… although I'd like you to remain just inside the building as we go out into the courtyard to assist our friend in freeing the men in the courtyard… Quickly please!"
And Elswhere yet:
Etienne steps out into the area where the men are working. They seem not to notice him, or if they do they don't respond. He looks back over his shoulder expecting Thomas or Valerius, but they don't appear. ‘Perhaps we shouldn't split up’, Ettienne muses briefly, but then shrugs. “I'm sure they'll be along.” Etienne continues toward the men with a smile on his face.
"Gentlemen, I am Etienne Vallaint! Take heart! The witch has been vanquished, her minions defeated, and we…" He looks back over my shoulder, "…er, I am here to rescue you!" For a split second he worries that they might still be entranced, but they throw down their hammers almost as one.
"Get these chains off me then, lad!" A large older man with a balding head exclaims.
"As you wish. Let's have a look at them…" Etienne agrees, a bit of the “stages coming out in his actions.
Valerius and the rest escort the survivors to the courtyard, and it becomes apparent that Etienne is not only safe, but well on his way to freeing the captives, Valerie visibly relaxes.
He turns to Thomas & Bertrand and says quietly, "why don't you two check the courtyard or ask some of these men, and see if you can locate those wagons that we discussed? Please try to stay within sight of the courtyard if you can… that way we can both reinforce each other, should there still be any danger."
Valerie then turns to the older nun who seemed to be guiding the others…" Forgive me sister, but I am obvious not as familiar with your Abbey as you are… are there any other places that we should search for survivors or captives?"
"…we'll do our best to make sure you get safely home to your loved ones, Jean." Etienne continues with the man whose manacle I've been unlocking, "There!" He exclaims as it comes loose, "You are once again a free man." Etienne moves to the next man and begins working on his lock. They're all identical and not particularly well made, so freeing the men has gone quickly. There are only two more to go when he hear movement behind him and looks to see the others enter the courtyard. "Ah! And these are the men who vanquished the evils in this abbey!" He says gesturing over his shoulder, "Stout warriors, every one!" Etienne continues freeing the last two men and speaks with them, encouraging them to get some of the wine the other men have been passing around. He then returns to the others, wiping the dust off his legs as he approaches, "What kept you?" He shakes his head and waves the oncoming response away, "Regardless, there's something you should hear." Etienne turns toward the men, "Henri!" A large older man with a balding pate comes over, "Tell them what you told me, about the tower…"
Henri nods and clears his throat, "Well, I overheard that witch talking and she said something about a 'tower of iron'." his accent marks him as Almanian. "Whether she was talking about an existing tower or not, I don't know, but the plates we've been forging could be used to build such a thing. In fact, they could be used for little else."
Etienne steps in and claps him on the shoulder, "Thank you, Henri."
The man nods and looks to Etienne and the others, "I should be thanking all of you. I have hope to see my family again. After what we've seen…" he looks down, his eyes distant, "…our thanks." He heads back to the others.
"These men were taken from their homes”, Etienne explains after Henri was out of ear shot “and from what I could gather they were brought here across what some of them described as a hellish terrain." He looks at the others, "I don't think they came by road or even untamed lands. They all come from different places. From Northeastern Couer to Western Almania, and everywhere in between. They were forced to forge the masks…" Etienne pauses and looks over his shoulder, making sure none of the freed men are within ear shot, "…and were also forced to watch the red hot iron being forced onto the faces of the youngest of the women. The poor girls were apparently violated in other ways as well." He shakes his head. "There are horrors rising in these lands, gentlemen." He looks to Cedric, "I hope you are right about your god. I've a feeling we'll be needing him."
“He is always with us.” Brother Cedric replies. “Proof is in the fact that your celestial thievery works on me; his humble servant.
“I have the feeling that we'll have plenty of time to debate that point in the days to come." Etienne quips flippantly as he looks around, "Where did Morgoth and Bernadine take that girl off to?"
Valerius turns from the sister that he was speaking quietly to, and answers Etienne, "I believe Morgoth said something about tending to her ailments with means other than healing magic… so I'd assume he went to his horse to get out his various herbalist supplies…He IS quite skilled in that regard after all. If you just wait a few more minutes while the sisters finish gathering up the rest of their supplies, we can all go back to the horses together, and find them."
"Perhaps we should take a stroll around the grounds first.” Etienne counters smoothly. “The blacksmiths said that three groups of wagons left a couple of weeks ago. As far as they know, there are no others, but they've been chained to the forges." He looks to the piles of iron, "And we should really do something about those. If all this was about getting those iron sheets, we should make sure that they aren't rewarded for their troubles. Or more specifically the trouble they've caused."
"I actually had a very similar idea Etienne” Valerius agrees smiling, “ although short of attempting to destroy them, I doubt there's much we can do without going to Blamont first to gather supplies or reinforcements… There's so much here, that we would probably need at least a dozen wagons to move it all… and even if we attempted to destroy the plates, they would still be here as iron scrap, and able to be reforged… no, I think the best option is to see if we can make arrangement in Blamont to remove the iron… that will deny it to the Enemy forever”. Valerius turns to Brother Cedric, as if only now noticing that he stayed to debate theology with Etienne, rather than going with Morgoth. "Brother Cedric, since you are blessed by Eru with the ability to see enchantments, is there any way that you could use your gifts to determine if this iron has been in any way tampered with or corrupted magically?
Looking over the makeshift iron foundry in the courtyard, and the ruined state of the Abbey, Valerious seems to come to a decision internally, before turning back the sister who had taken charge of the survivor's. "Sister? Is there someone here who will be taking charge of your order? … or at least this Abbey? I have an idea, but I don't want to seem too presumptuous, so I'd like to talk it over first with someone from your order first…"
"I'm not sure who will take charge of this ruin," Ana Marie says serenely, and you are once again impressed with her bearing. "What is your idea, young man?"
"What happened here is no doubt a great tragedy, and nothing can replace or repair the lives that were lost.” Valerius begins. “But at some point the survivor's, your fellow sisters, and these men here, will need to attempt to rebuild their lives. Whether you wish to do that here, or in another place, is entirely up to you. However, one side effect of this tragedy is that your Abbey has come into possession of a large quantity of iron and iron ore. Now, while I won't claim to have any expertise as a merchant. I wouldn't be surprised if this iron ore could be sold to one of the merchant houses in Blamont for a fairly large sum, even after transport and recovery costs are factored in. In fact, in that very vein, I happen to know of at least one merchant house that recently had a one of their iron ore suppliers raided by the same supernatural forces that attacked your Abbey… in fact it was those attacks which first alerted my friends and I to what was going on here, and eventually led us to your Abbey.
There's a part of me that finds a certain symmetry in denying the iron to The Enemy; replacing the iron shipments lost to the merchant house that first alerted us to the problem; and providing your sisters, and the other survivors with the funds to start rebuilding… all at the same time. I can make no promises, but if you and your sisters approve, I could at least make some inquiries towards seeing if my plan would be possible…"
Ana arches a slender eyebrow. "My, aren't we an ambitious young man? Go ahead – see if you can make it work. Eru knows the sisterhood will need the money to rebuild and re-sanctify this Abbey."
A small smile crosses Valerius's face, and he nods his head in thanks to the sister…. "I appreciate the complement sister, but I there are still many potential obstacles to be overcome before I can be sure that my plan will work. I also think that before we leave here, we should do what we can to render the iron plates unusable for their originally intended purpose. That way if any supernatural forces still remain, and they happen to come here before a salvage crew can return to claim the iron… they will not only find little of use, but have no reason to remain."
"I leave that to you," she says. "I doubt any of this lot will be able to help you much in that respect."
Valerius nods once more to the sister, before turning to the courtyard and calling out…"Henri! I need your advice and perhaps your assistance for a moment…. I have a task which I think you will appreciate."
Henri looks around at the other men and nods. "Not that we're ungrateful sir, but that's the work of days, not minutes or hours. We'd all just as soon be away from here."
Etienne leans in close to Valerius, "There's also the matter of 'monsters' that may return. These people are in no condition to weather any sort of attack." He adds in a more hushed tone, "We should leave as soon as possible."
"Henri…” Valerius continues. “I’m not really concerned with trying to transport the iron or melting it down into bars at this point…. I just want to damage as many of the sheets as possible, as quickly as possible, so that they won't be usable to construct this "iron tower. All we need to do is hammer it out of shape, or get the coals as hot as we possibly can, so that they damage the sheets… whatever you can think of to damage as many plates as possible, as quickly as possible… If nothing else, I suggest we stack as much wood as possible in and around the plates and set it on fire… I doubt any of the maidens will be able to salvage the plates if they are buried beneath a bonfire. Will that work?"