Monday, June 14, 2010

Hornung's Gatehouse

Friday, June 27, 1650

Having left Thursday morning, the road does prove to be less easy, particularly after reaching to fork and thus forsaking the road to Soldau to take the track to the keep.  Track is the correct word, for in many places the road is barely wide enough for the carraige, and at times Emmanuel needs to drive while Avel and Andrej cut away enough of the brush on the sides of the road to let the wide carriage through.  There are many places where the road becomes muddy - particularly after the brief shower that occurs Friday morning.  Only once, however, do the horses need to be unhitched in order to be harnessed separately to pull the carriage out of a bog - and it is not too bad.

The land itself grows more inundated with water as you move into the valley of the Aller, and by journey's end all three of the party are muddy from the knees down, damp and quite uncomfortable.  But you do finally find - with a cotter's help - the gatehouse itself:

This is the state of repair; and the place is not abandoned or deserted.  There seem to be people here - Gypsies, you would reckon, and more than a dozen at first glance, in small makeshift huts at the bottom of the hill depicted here.  The road would run along the left side of the picture, level with the highest floor shown - with the tower than overlooking the road below.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Munster-an-der-Ortze

Wednesday, June 25, 1650

So, having reaching Hildesheim Monday night, on Tuesday the carriage proceeded north, re-entering the lands of Calenburg for the second time. Upon coming to the border, the party is confronted by another patrol - one that is more friendly, more routine, who merely wants to know where the party is heading. It occurs that the party that this might be a time to ask directions to the keep, to learn (perhaps for the second time) that the place the party wishes to do is northeast of Soldau, northwest of Munster-an-der-Ortze, and southwest of Luneburn, upon the border of the Principality of Verden, that being territory retained by the Swedish crown following the end of the 30 Years War.

The party is told that they can reach their destination by means of a narrow cobbled road between Munster and Soldau; that upon that road there is a tower in disrepair that stands at a fork, and that the right fork will climb into a group of low hills and into a glen fed by nothing more than a little watercourse (not shown on the map) that is called the Aller, and that it is three miles north of a Hamlet called Winsen.

The party will reach Munster midday on Wednesday; I stop there, because it is the last point before entering into the forest.  So if there are any last things desired, now would be the time to purchase them.  It can be seen from the map that the area being entered is somewhat wild, deciduous forest; the picture is of the Aller River, but it would not likely be maintained this well at the time of the game.  I include it here to identify the size.

(OOC:  I do not have a table generated for prices, but in this case I think we can be flexible, in the interest of keeping the campaign moving, and assume that the prices will change when I can generate the table (my tables are in disarray because I am trying to add Norway and the Low Countries to them).  So please use the last table I generated, and presume that the only things available are those found at the 'Town Market.'  As a sidenote, I like that I can select certain tables to be used for small towns, keeping the unrestricted table for use in the large, market cities.)

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Heights of Mt. Ossa

Monday, June 9, 1650


Aric will strike out for the slopes of Mt. Ossa, taking pathways that are steep and not that well travelled. By early afternoon, the two of you have climbed to a place where Symeon is able to see a considerable distance across the plain below, eight or ten miles to the horizon.

“Symeon,” will say Aric. “I have heard you speak of Greece as a single entity, and while I understand this thinking, I cannot say that I condone it. Greek thought has never been a single land or had a solitary existence. It has existed as slave, servant and master in a hundred lands, and whatever the political nature of its people, the ideas are not bound by mere soldiers or kings.

“You have said you wish Greece to be free. When has this land ever been free? We were Byzantines and the land was soaked with blood as usurper slaughtered king over and over. We were Roman and still there was blood. We were many independent cities and always, again, blood. And now you would raise more armies and drench the ground with more blood, to gain what? To make the land free. It is only land, Symeon. It does not breathe, it does not feel pain, it knows nothing of whose armored feet tread upon it, nor does it care. Think not of the land, but of the people in it, of the spirits that have dwelt here for ages upon ages, reaching back into the depths of time. When blood is what they want, they will call for it. If it satisfies them to have the land in the hands of the Turks, we cannot bring about a change.

“We must worry ourselves with those things that are in our grasp. We must keep chaos from breaking loose the bonds that keep it held ... the chaos that those bandits down there, who share your views, would release upon the land. Stop, now, and look out at the plains below. Do they seem ill at ease, or do they seem at peace. The land blossoms, food grows, children laugh and play, all is as it should be. Put aside this anger, and find instead peace yourself.”

It would be the character’s nature to ignore all this, but I will point out that when Symeon does look out at the plain, he DOES feel a sense of peace ... this would be a sight he would rarely see, and it would be compelling and even, if we must use a magic phrase for it, suggestive. So he may stuff all that down if he wishes, but he must admit to himself that the world is a beautiful place.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Gottingen-Hildesheim Road

Monday, June 23, 1650

To begin with, please note that a week has passed.  This is in keeping with the party's desire to 'move things along,' as it were.  Nevertheless, I shall try to give an overview of the time that's passed.

Last Tuesday, the party left Nuremberg - a very large city, comparable to Munich, with many tens of thousands of people, heavy traffic, many goods pouring through the town gates and so on.  The party had been to Zurich, which would have been larger, so this is not the first truly large town the party has seen ... but still, it must be noted that the urbanization was very significant.  Again, with other areas the party has travelled before, farming throughout the area is intense, with many manor houses and castles.  I myself am glad that this is more definite now, as determined by my new mapping structure.

Climbing out of the valley of the Main, the party grows aware of the diminishing population as they travel west, through Nivenstadt, and then into the Frankenwald, an area of untouched nature.  It is very different from the forests of Switzerland; here the woods are idyllic, suggestive of tales Avel or Andrej may have heard of mythical woodlands, where faeries might dwell.  While the beauty of Switzerland is to be found in the staggering scale of its mountains, here the beauty is in the flowered slopes, the glittering lakes and white-water rivers, and in the spectacular greenery - this is one of the lushest areas that anyone in the party may ever have seen.  Emmanuel is quite moved by it.

Last Wednesday, the party rode down out of the Frankenwald and onto the farmlands surrounding Kitlingen and Wurzburg; they would have met some traders or other travellers, also on their way to Frankfurt, particularly as they would have been a delay at the Kitzlingen bridge over the Main River.  They pass the fork north to Schweinfurt, and arrive in Wurzburg in mid-afternoon.  Some time is required arranging for passage, but barges are leaving daily now with metal ores for the Rhine valley (copper, iron, zinc), for the river's flood period is past and there are now five good months of river trafficking before the winter returns.

Last Thursday, the party relaxed as they wound their way down the Main River towards Frankfurt, passing through the region called Unterfranken, or Lower Franconia; the forest here is thicker, more overgrown with brush and brambles - and in some places from the river the party can see evidence of fens or even wetter marshland - and there is a certain gratefulness that it is all being passed upon the water, and not by road.  Nightfall brings the sight of Ascapha, where the barge - carrying a load of young dairy cattle - is pulled to shore.

Last Friday, after Hanau on the right bank and Offenbach on the left, where the land again becomes purely agricultural, around midday, the Main River reached the city of Frankfurt.  The sight of it astounds the party.  Frankfurt, and the other cities surrounding it, represent a mass of people unlike anything the party has imagined.  There are 450,000 people in Frankfurt ... a huge, engorged city that has far surpassed the boundaries of its walls, so that houses, workshops, warehouses and fishing docks sprawl along both sides of the Main.  The barge lets you off outside of Frankfurt itself, and it takes hours of walking to finally emerge from the never-ending populace - one of the great factories of Europe, where the world is supplied with goods made in this place and poured outwards into the basin of the Mediterranean, across northern Europe and as far away as the New World.

It is with a sense of escape that the party is able to reach the Free City of Friedberg before the end of the day - an area of mixed agriculture, still civilized but far less frenetic in its pace.

Last Saturday, the party made its way north towards - without reaching - the town of Fritzlar, but in fact moving from the south region of Hesse into the north.  Hesse is divided into two 'Houses', that of Darmstadt and that of Cassel ... it is into the lands belonging to the latter house that the party reaches by late Saturday.  At one point, the road to Bingen, through Wetzlar, was passed, and since that time the amount of traffic has increased - though truth be told, the road north out of Frankfurt has never for a moment been empty.  There are many dozens upon any half-mile stretch of it, each group walking along in the wake of the one before.

Last Sunday, after passing through Cassel and thence to Gottingen, the traffic upon the road becomes much diminished.  Most have turned west towards Paderborn and the Duchies of Marck and Berg that lie in that direction.  In Gottingen, as the party camps upon the north side of the city, they find that even more of the traffic has moved east, towards Magdeburg and Thuringia.

And so today, Monday, as the party proceeds north to Hildesheim, the Weser River a few miles to the east, skirting along the edge of the Harz Mountains and into the Salzgitter Hills, a densely wooded, rolling land with many streams and outcroppings of rock, full of birch, willow and alder trees.

As I say, it is this country through which you are walking, a part of the Principate of Calenburg, the precise political entity where you have striven to reach (though you are in a southern arm of the principality), when upon the road ahead comes six guardsmen (some fifty yards away and on the road), wearing the livery of the principality (you would recognize it from having seen the coat of arms in Gottingen the day before), not hurrying in the least.  They stop, however, upon seeing the party upon the carriage, and make motions to wave the carriage down.