Thursday, February 25, 2010

Near Midnight, Valerio's Tale

Friday, May 30, 1650

“There was a great King, the last King of his kingdom, the great kingdom of the Po called Lombardy. This King was a powerful man, a ruthless man ... when there was a duke who claimed the right to this King’s kingdom, this King had the duke’s eyes put out, and his hands cut off, and his feet cut off. And then he did the same to fifty men who were the duke’s men, and a thousand other men besides were put to the sword, though they were not cut apart, for they were only common men. Such was this King’s heartlessness.

Now, the King had a beautiful daughter, whose voice was that of songbirds, and who’s skin was like that of the finest marble; she was a very uncommon girl, this daughter, and she had many suitors, both princes and other kings, who would marry this daughter and align their lands with the King of our story. They promised to give the King armies and navies that he might attack his neighbors ... and they promised to give the King riches, that he might build palaces and churches to the glory of God ... and they promised the King wisdom, that the King might grow wise and might live centuries longer – but the King spurned every offer, and denied every gift. And so the princes and kings of other lands went away and said to themselves, “This King must love his daughter, and that is why he will not part with her.”

Ah, but this is not so my friends, for the King truly felt nothing for his daughter. Though she might have the truest heart, though she might be the most beautiful woman in the world – and there were those who said she was – it meant naught to this King, except as the bargain he desired, a bargain that his children might own the world. For this King did desire to marry his daughter off – to none other that the greatest lord of Europe, the Emperor Charlemagne.

Charlemagne had never seen this daughter, but he had heard of her. He had not asked for her, and when the King of our story sent messengers to Charlemagne telling of the daughter’s perfect hands, and her perfect feet, and her perfect eyes, and her perfect lips, Charlemagne was not moved, and did not call for the daughter.

The King of our story would not relent. He built a great army, not with which to attack Charlemagne, or to attack his neighbors, but to wage war on his own kingdom, to gather together a great dowry, a dowry that would compel Charlemagne to marry the King’s daughter. Every soul in the kingdom was stripped of wealth, every coin, every jewel, every trinket and every ornament was seized. Hundreds upon hundreds were put to the sword by the king’s army, until at last the people relented and brought everything they owned of value to the King. And all this that was brought was gathered together and loaded onto a line of wagons that reached from the eye to the horizon. In this my friends, I tell the truth.

Now the King did not put his daughter at the front of this line, but instead he put her in the largest wagon, at the very end, that Charlemagne might see all the treasure the King was sending and his heart would be softened. And so the mighty horde began its way north, over the Alps, and into the empire of Charlemagne.

Now, while the King had waged war on his own kingdom, he had not thought about the Church, or what was due to God. When the good fathers saw the devastation that had been wrought upon Lombardy, they devised a plan. Charlemagne was a very holy man, and if it became known to him through what sins this daughter was presented, no amount of gold would soften Charlemagne’s good heart. So they sent a party of three men, who reached Germany before the King’s wagons. Very quietly and very cleverly they gave Charlemagne a dream, in which Charlemagne saw all that had passed, and all that was passing.

When Charlemagne woke, he gathered together his closest men and rode south – and in the mountains, he turned back the monstrous horde, and the daughter also, refusing even to look upon her. He refused her my friends, however beautiful she might have been, for what value does a woman have if a man must sell his soul to have her?

And Charlemagne leveled a great curse upon the gold, that it should be lost forever, and that whosoever came into possession of the gold would fall, and their kingdom with them.

Now, it is said that the gold never returned to Lombardy, that a great storm drove the wagons into the highest mountains and that every soul that had tried to bring the gold to Germany had perished, and the daughter with them. But there are those who say the gold must have returned to Lombardy, for the King was the last King of Lombardy, was he not? But where is the gold, my friends, where is it? For you may ask of every family in that ancient Kingdom, and they will recall none of it ever having returned ... and you can ask of every other kingdom, but they never saw any gold. And in the end, as we well know, when the King did fall, it was by the hands of Charlemagne’s army, and it was Charlemagne who was give the title Rex Langobardorum, the King of Lombardy. There are those who say Charlemagne took the gold, and the kingdom both – but we know, don’t we my friends. We know where the gold is!”

And at this Valerio points his finger to the highest mountain. “There, it is there! And woe to him that finds it!”

51 comments:

Andrej said...

Andrej shrugs "So do we turn back now with shovels or make for Dachau first?"

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

I look at Andrej and mouth the words "I told you so..."

Upon Andrej's nonchalant response, I say in a low whisper "I want nothing of that gold, and I think you might want to lose that helmet and chain - I don't like the thought having something cursed with us on our journey."

(My apologies for the deleted comments. I use Firefox/IE with a tab plug-in. Apparently, IE had me signed in as Chgowiz. I've logged out and back in.)

Andrej said...

"I will find a place for each of them before we set off."

Last we handled the items I gave them over to Delfig and Serafina. Assuming each still has them, I'll collect them into my pack for safe keeping until tomorrow.

Alexis said...

You watch as Serafina, who has gone white, stands and hurries to talk to Valerio, who has now sat down following the applause. She speaks a few words to him. He answers one word.

Serafina turns and flees from the tavern.

Andrej said...

Even more interesting. I approach Valerio, "Brother, what did the lady ask of you? What did you say?"

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

I will try to follow Serafina.

Alexis said...

She runs back to the Chamois; you will find her in the room, face down, struggling not to cry openly.

Alexis said...

Andrej, Valerio will say that she asked what was the name of the Lombard king ... and that the answer was 'Desiderius'.

Andrej said...

I thank Valerio. The name on the coin. Very, very interesting.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

Gently said: "Fraulein, why do you cry so? What did the old storyteller say to you?"

Alexis said...

She will struggle to get ahold of herself.

"Do you know see?" she asks brokenly. "It is an omen!"

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

"An omen?" I ask.

"I believe that Andrej did indeed find a helmet and amulet that might be of the cursed King's train. We have not found any gold coins or treasure, and for that I thank G*d that we may have avoided any curse. As for what we did find, we will be rid of it. Andrej will get rid of it tomorrow. I am glad we didn't stay further and find anymore."

Avel said...

Avel seems very confused by Serafina's actions.

"Andrej? What is happening? It's just a bar story."

Alexis said...

"The coin, the coin ... had the king's name on it! Why did we find it? Why were we destined to find it? Because the girl was sent back, the girl wasn't wanted! Just as I won't be wanted!"

Andrej said...

"I beleive the story of a spurned bride has affected Serafina. What of the gold, Avel? Do you beleive it is there? Do you beleive it is cursed?"

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

"Fraulein, only G*d knows your destiny, not a coin or helmet that someone finds on the side of the road. We will not hold onto the gold, we do not have evil in our hearts. You go back to be loved, escorted by men who would give their lives for that attempt. You are not in the company of evil or those who have caused harm to thousands. I do not think the curse has anything to do with you."

Avel said...

"The gold... well, it's gold. Even if it is there, why would you want that much? All it will bring you is trouble, even without a curse. If I went up there tomorrow and found a kingdom's worth of gold, I'd bury it and forget I saw it. A man with that much money will have many jealous eyes and equally jealous hands on him. Even if I just take a little, everyone will want to know where it is. Men will hate me just because I found something they did not."

"No, even if it is there, even if it's not cursed, I think it's best to leave it there. That kind of money is nothing but trouble."

"But maybe I'm wrong. What about you?"

Andrej said...

"The gold itself tempts me not. I have most of what I need already in this fine company. It's the fact that it is there... and secret. I would go and dig it up and allow you to bury again just to set my eyes upon it once."

Avel said...

"That would be something, I admit. To see a treasure no man has laid eyes on since the age of Charlemagne. Maybe it wouldn't hurt to take a just a little."

Alexis said...

She does not seem to believe you, Delfig (OOC: though, a very nice speech).

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

I'll remain there with her if she wishes to speak more.

Alexis said...

(OOC: Avel, Andrej ... I'm busting a gut laughing)

Andrej said...

Andrej regards Avel with a knowing look over the rim of his (mug?). "Let me tell you a story, now my friend. His name was Jan, and he was close to both Delfig and I..."

Andrej said...

(OOC: :) )

Avel said...

(OOC - ah ha! Now I must go back and read the archives again to divine Andrej's lesson =) )

Andrej said...

(OOC: Andrej's lesson is only that you should know of Jan and how he came to a cruel end at the hands of foul assasins, now that you are one of us.)

Avel said...

(OOC - got it.)

Alexis said...

Delfig, she chooses to keep her own company.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

I'll nod and leave the room, then - I'll return to the tavern.

Alexis said...

Feel free to assume you have returned to the tavern, Delfig ... if you want to talk to the others.

Andrej said...

I'm ready and waiting

Avel said...

I think we can assume Andrej is giving Avel background information until Delfig arrives.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

I'll sit back down with my companions and share with them what Serafina had to say.

"I've already worried about a curse following us, now it seems that we may have spurred our charge with a new set of fears. We must get rid of those items and finish our task at hand."

Avel said...

"Delfig, I think you're worrying too much. We aren't that far from our destination. The lady is understandably upset - she doesn't know what kind of man she is going back to."

Andrej said...

"If anything has spurred our charge, Delfig, it has been your worry. Please, brother, you must see that the forces that have been acting against us are no more than the evil inherent in the world. There is no curse upon us, be it upon this coin (indicates the Lombard copper piece) or upon our heads. We are good men, with good intentions on a mission for the sake of love. Hornung's love for Serafina and our love for Jan, whose task this was in the beginning."

Now somewhat defenseively, expecting the argument...

"I shall dispose of the helmet and the coin somehow in the morning. The amulet I say we should keep. I propose we find a scholar in Munich or Dachau who can tell us the truth of this gold and the Last King of the Lombards. We should not turn so readily from the path of adventure on tavern-tales alone."

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

"No, she fears the curse of the gold that Andrej found. No words would console her. And worry too much? You hardly know what I've seen in this ill-fated journey."

(I'll lay out the battle of Dachau, not mentioning some of the ... ahhh... more interesting parts that I was involved in.)

"... so although we may be close, I would rather be direct and get this done."

Andrej said...

Andrej drains his mug. "On that we can agree. Let us retire and be up early."

Andrej will make his way back to the inn room.

Andrej said...

One last thing before he goes "Whatever debt you feel needs repaying will be paid, Delfig. Your pennance has been honorable, but don't let your guilt become a sin of pride."

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

I listen to Andrej's words and frown. I make sure to speak low so that we are not overheard.

"Andrej, that woman will not want to travel with you bearing any relic or piece of that accursed treasure. Tavern tales perhaps, but you speak lightly of such things after seeing Jan's blood on the ground from his death, having had strange animals attack us and having seen the evil at Dachau.

If you wish to bury the amulet and return afterwards, that is your path, but I want nothing to do with it, nor do I think we should subject Serafina to its presence. "

When Andrej announces his intention to sleep, I nod brusquely. "I'll join you in awhile." I'll slowly finish my cup, considering what has happened.

Avel said...

To Delfig's story:

"I've come far, but I have not ever seen anything like that. You're either very lucky or there is something in the works for you."

Avel will talk to Andrej aside.

"If you want to keep the amulet, there need be no mention to Serafina. Put in the bottom of a pack and let it be forgotten until we are back in Dachau."

To Delfig:

"Andrej told me about what happened to you on your way to meet with Serafina. Do you have any idea where those assassins could have gone? From what Andrej told me of him, Jan was a good man, and his murder should not go unpunished."

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

"I hope they are far away. Given how quickly they were able to kill, I doubt we'd have much of a chance if they were dead set on hunting us down. "

Alexis said...

It would be after 1 a.m., and the bartender considering closing his establishment.

(OOC: shall we call it there? I can begin the next post when possible, if so indicated, which would outline the morning).

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

(Yes, I'm fine with retiring for the evening. Would it be OK if we picked this up Monday morning? I'm at a bit of a deadline this afternoon.)

Andrej said...

Monday is cool with me, guys.

Alexis, Andrej will endeavor to rise early and have Emmanuel set about preparing the horses. He'll then go and see about selling the helmet in town. The amulet, he will wear for now and tuck deep within his clothes to keep it's presence concealed.

Avel said...

(OOC- I'm fine with Monday)

Avel will go to bed around 1, and rise when he feels rested enough to help ready the horses to travel.

Andrej said...

P.S. before we turn in, does anybody need healing?

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

(I could use some healing, I'm down roughly a quarter of my hit points)

Alexis said...

Avel is down 8 h.p.; no one in the party will have healed on their own.

Andrej said...

I just healed Avel 5 points. I'll heal Delfig in the morning.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

(OOC - "I'll heal Delfig in the morning." That just sounds vaguely... wrong. LOL)

Avel said...

(Sorry there, had to pop out for a bit and dig myself out of the latest blizzard. And yeah, that does sound oh so slightly off, Chgowiz =) )