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.

24 comments:

Andrej said...

(OOC: Wow, Alexis. Even in hand-waving us through, you provide enough brief but important details to give a sense of having actually made the trip. Bravo! Andrej, though anxious to be on his way, is nevertheless curious about Frankfurt and its bustle (On our next trip through, I'll likely want to pause and consider the price list)... and of course the deep forests of the Frankenwald.)

I'll assume Andrej is atop the carriage and indicate to whomever is driving that we should stop. "Greetings, gentlemen."

Alexis said...

Says the largest of them, "All right, all of you - off that carriage. I don't fancy lookin' up to the likes of you."

James C. said...

Andrej does not step from the carriage.

"I am Brother Andrej, a catholic friar most recently of Dachau. My associate is Avel and our servant here is Emmanuel. Is there some trouble?"

Andrej said...

Whoops.

Alexis said...

"Now, look 'ere ya damn papist, you get yourself off that seat or we'll pull you down."

Andrej said...

Andrej will step down from the carriage, keeping his hands close to his maces at his belt.

"Rather chilly for June, is it not?"

Avel said...

I will climb down without a word, but will dismount on the side of the carriage opposite to the guardsmen. My sword is openly on my belt.

Alexis said...

The guard will ignore Andrej's retort. Two of the guardsmen, both of them rather younger than the rest, will equally place their hands on the hilts of the swords while they watch Avel.

The guard speaking to Andrej, a bald fellow with a beard, thick lips and short, fat fingers, will take up a bottle that is hanging on his belt and take a swig from it. "There's a toll on this road," he says. "I'm thinking you haven't paid it."

Avel said...

"Have you got papers?" I'll say sharply and shortly.

Andrej said...

Andrej awaits the answer to Avel's question.

Alexis said...

The lead guard will say to Avel, "Papers? Papers, did you say? Do I look like a scribbler? I have THIS:" And at that he holds up his hand, showing an insignia ring, the sort that might be used as a stamp; but the image, of a white horse, means little to you.

"Maybe they shouldn't pay the toll, Soddy," says a second fellow, very pale skinned, sharp-featured and with large, brown eyes.

"That's right, that's right," says Soddy, the bald fellow, cryptically and darkly; "Maybe we don't want no toll from them."

Andrej said...

"Nay, gentlemen, if there is a legal toll upon this road we shall pay it gladly. There is no need for violence. It would prey heavily upon our souls to have to do you good, simple men grevious harm. We are here on legitimate business, representing Herr Hornung of Dachau on the matter of certain estates he owns north of here, by Luneburg. I'm sure our master would not wish us to break local custom or law while acting in his name, he being a landed man... not to mention a knight of the church and hero of the Wars. Tell me. Soddy, of the toll and the authority represented by your ring that authorizes it so that we may behave accordingly in your land."

Avel said...

I will stare sullenly at the group while Andrej speaks, doing my best to look huge.

Alexis said...

The second one will say, “Talks purty, don’t he?”

Soddy will answer, “All them papists, its the same. And look at him, Tolly! See the goddamn orc blood? It’s the kind of thing that makes me sick.”

“Yeah, I see it,” says Tolly.

“To think we fought hard to rid these damn papist from our lands, and now I’ve got to take money to let them through - and why? Because the road’s the road, that’s why.”

“I hear you Soddy.”

“Maybe we should turn them back?” asks one of the men watching Avel.

“You shut up,” answers Soddy.

“It’s not a bad idea,” says Tolly.

Andrej said...

"If there's a toll to pay, we shall pay it, Soddy. If we are turned away it will displease our master. His anger is not something we'd wish to arouse."

Alexis said...

"Is that a threat?"

Andrej said...

"Indeed not. Shall we pay our toll and be on our way, then? Surely the likes of us are wasting your valuable time."

Alexis said...

It is evident that the approach Andrej is taking is really starting to steam Soddy. "It's my time, and I'll waste it how I like!" He'll step forward and put his nose about an inch from Andrej's, and half shout, "I'm just this close to taking up Tolly on not letting you through for all the money it took to pay for that fancy carriage of yours and more besides! Just give me a reason!"

Andrej said...

Andrej is careful not to move or provoke with his posture. He stands with hands at sides, but close to his maces as described before. He nods only, in a manner meant to express something just short of acqeissence "As you wish, Soddy. We await your judgement."

Alexis said...

Soddy will step back, spit, and laugh - derisively, that is. "Ah, these papists."

He'll wave his men down. "Very well, move along. Pass through again, and we shall see what for."

The men step back and make no aggressive moves.

Andrej said...

In that case let us mount the carriage once again and be off.

Alexis said...

You are unhindered in your way.

(OOC: have a pleasant weekend)

Avel said...

(OOC - I was strongly tempted to punch Soddy for getting in Andrej's face there. =) )

Andrej said...

(OOC - you and me both, Avel. You and me both)