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.

63 comments:

Andrej said...

"Avel, any ideas on how to approach this? Should we announce ourselves straight away and see what is what, or reveal our's and Hornung's intent only after some discrete inquiry and observation?"

(OOC: I'll give Avel a bit of time respond in case he's checking in, but lacking that will move things forward as previously agreed)

Avel said...

"I'm not rightly sure Andrej. On one hand, we have our patron's authority behind us. On the other, I doubt gypsies care much for law and order. There are too many to simply fight.

I believe we should identify ourselves right off as Hornung's representatives. Any duplicity can make a delicate situation worse."

Alexis said...

Awaiting an action.

Andrej said...

(OOC: Sorry folks... first day back in the office after being on the road last week and I had my hands full)

Alexis, based on your description I assume we are on the road, to the left of the gatehouse and on higer ground than the shacks, whihc lie on the slope. Is this correct?

Alexis said...

Yes, that is correct; you would be on the road, looking down at the Gypsies below you.

Andrej said...

In the event of the necessity of a hasty departure, Andrej will instruct Emmanuel to remain atop the carriage and be prepared to depart quickly. Avel he would like by his side.

Andrej steps forward, and calls out "Hail traveller, I am Adnrej and this is Avel. We represent lord Eberhardt Hornung, whose lands you currently occupy, no doubt on your way to someplace else. Is there one amongst you that shall speak for the group?"

Andrej said...

"Yes. I am Brother Andrej, my companion is Avel. We represent Lord Eberhardt Hornung, whose lands you currently reside upon. His lordship is returning home after many years abroad and in Dachau, Bavaria. We have been sent to ascertain the condition of his property and make arrangements as necessary for his return. To whom are we speaking, sir?"

Avel said...

I will be maintaining a careful watch on our sides for any ambush. I'm not expecting one, but it seems like a good idea.

Alexis said...

It is a man that speaks: "Yes, I heard the words you made - but what means it?" A woman behind him speaks quietly, and the man says, "I am Ferka; and this is my wife, Lala. If it means anything to you."

Alexis said...

Avel - it seems that you hear something. It is not close...but you cannot be specific about the sound.

Andrej said...

Andrej shall continue in a gentle but firm tone. "This land belongs to our employer, Lord Hornung. He is returning to live in the nearby estate. If you wish to dwell here after this day, it will be as legal tenants of the lord. You will owe him rent or service as a condition of your tenancy and live or leave here at his pleasure. I understand this likely not the situation you have enjoyed up until now, but it shall be the situation henceforth."

Alexis said...

Ferka looks very confused. "But ... we pay rent to Herr Hornung. We have these last seven months."

Andrej said...

"That is interesting, indeed. Who has collected this rent on behalf of Hornung, friend?"

Avel said...

(the site ate my last post)

I will attempt to determine the origin and location of the sound. I do not have a problem being obvious about doing so.

Alexis said...

(OOC: It keeps doing it to me, too, Avel; put whatever you've written on the clipboard before you post...has saved me much suffering)

Ferka will reply that Hornung himself has: "Herr Albert Hornung, who owns these lands," asserts Ferka.

Avel, this would require you moving along the road a distance of some twenty yards, and then down slope. Do you wish to do this?

Andrej said...

"Yes, I see. And could you describe this Hornung to me? His appearance and general temperment? Does he, for instance, speak with a lisp and maintain a fastidious appearance?"

Alexis said...

"No ..." answers Ferka, somewhat confused by the question. He then goes on to describe someone who could perhaps be the paladin Hornung, whom Andrej knows.

Andrej said...

Alexis, would Andrej know the name "Albert Hornung"? Was this the paladin Hornung's father?

Avel said...

So I would be moving towards the other group? I don't want to approach them and appear hostile.

Alexis said...

Andrej has no recollection of an 'Albert' having ever been mentioned - but does know that Eberhardt Hornung's father is dead.

Avel, in fact this would be moving quite a ways around the group below you.

James C. said...

"The man who owns these lands is Eberhardt Hornung, and he made no mention of collecting rent from a group such as yourselves. Indeed, as the true Herr Hornung has not set eyes upon this gatehouse nor the surrounding lands for some time, we were sent to ascertain its condition. The Albert Hornung that you speak of, where does he reside?"

Alexis said...

Ferke answers, "We do not know. He comes upon the first of each month; he has shown us papers, and he has men with him who see to it that we pay or are sent off the land. Do you have papers?"

(OOC: You should have; they would have been provided for you by Hornung's clerk back in Dachau)

Andrej said...

I will show Ferke the papers.

"When this Hornung comes, how many men does he bring? Do you know their names? Can you describe them to me?"

Avel said...

(OOC: My posts will be slow today. I just got in from a late night of gaming, and the sun was up to greet me.)

Alexis said...

(OOC: sorry, that should have been 'Ferka').

Ferka is quite confused; "These papers look ... very different. Much more real." He shows the papers to his wife Lala. Then answers the question: "Four men," he says. "All armored. They do not ask much from us - we do not have much. Do you mean that he has falsely taken money from us?"

Andrej said...

"Yes, I believe you have been lied to and stolen from... or rather, Herr Hornung has been stolen from as these monies would have been due him. You do not know from where these men come?"

Alexis said...

Ferka looks up the road, in the direction opposite to where the party has come. "From there," Ferka says.

He looks helpless. "What must we do now?"

Andrej said...

"Set things aright, Ferka. We have a few days before the first of the month. I would like for Avel and I to travel to Calenburg and make what inquiries we can there regarding this "other" Hornung, and perhaps return with local officials. Either way we shall face these charlatans and see what is what.

Sir, I cannot make promises on Herr Hornung's behalf. My belief is that he wants this land settled and worked and generating income. I do not know where your band would fit in such an arrangement, but he is an upright man and if you act well on his behalf, I can assure you that you will be dealt with fairly."

(OOC: Guys, I apologize if my participation has been sporadic these past two weeks. Let that be no indication of my enthusiasm for the game. It's been busy lately at work and at home as well. We'll be out of town on a short vacation starting tomorrow morning and I won't have access to a computer until Monday night, so can't play until then. Next week things should be better.)

Alexis said...

(OOC: Sorry I couldn't answer this earlier, before you left town. Don't worry about the time; last week was bad for me and we are steadily moving forward. Avel and I might make some progress on the weekend, who knows?)

Alexis said...

(OOC: for the record, there is no place called 'Calenburg'; this is a reference to the family name, and the duchy, but not to any specific town. The Duke of Calenburg resides in Celle).

Ferka agrees to wait for Andrej's assessment after further investigation.

I've awaited Avel's further action on the sound he's heard; but at this point, some two hundred yards distant, the group hears a loud crack, and sees a large poplar tree, higher than most others in the forest beyond, suddenly topple - the sound, even at this distance, is loud and startling.

Andrej said...

(OOC: Back in the saddle)

Andrej shall arm himself with his two horseman's maces and let his staff drop. "Ferka, are your folk felling trees in the forest?"

(OOC: say THAT 5 times quickly)

Alexis said...

Ferka answers, "Faith, it is not I nor any of my kine; none of us now have an axe sharp enough to do that work."

Emmanuel sees the staff drop, and jumps from the carriage to collect it. "I shall look after the horses, Master," he says.

Alexis said...

Ah, sorry, reading a back post, that should have been the 'Prince' of Calenburg resides in Celle, not the 'Duke.'

Andrej said...

(OOC: Dropped a post)

"If not your folk, then whose, Ferka? I would wager that this is not the first time such a tree has fallen so close to your camp."

Can Andrej spot any obvious signs that Ferka is deceiving him? For instance, is there lumber stacked about the camp or several sharp axes and saws lying about?

Avel said...

(I apologize. My internet connection has been down until now. I had no intention on acting on the sound until now anyways.)

"Andrej? I believe something is approaching. I heard movement over there just before the tree fell."

Alexis said...

No, none of those things are about. The huts themselves look to have been weaved from branches and then waterproofed with a mixture of clay and stones. The sort of construction that could be done with a dull axe.

There follows the sound of ripping, very loud, and of a tree cracking, such as when wood breaks when it has been bent too far.

Ferka remarks that it does not sound like any 'folk' at all.

Avel said...

I will gather my sword and shield from the carriage, then return to Andrej's side.

Alexis said...

Emmanuel will have Avel's things ready as he approaches.

Andrej said...

::gulp:: "I suppose we should have a look, then."

Andrej will make his way carefully toward the source of the noise, doing his best to find cover and/ or concealment as he does so, even if it mena s a less direct or slower route.

Avel said...

I will follow Andrej closely.

Alexis said...

Ferka will also follow along, keeping back a distance of about eight yards; he will beckon to two other men, who will join him.

I don't wish to string this out overlong; the following sight appears at a distance of about 34 yards:

A massive creature, slightly larger than the largest bull any of you have ever seen. It is much narrower in build than a cow, with its body shaped somewhat more like the lower quarters of a giraffe - except that it has a large, square head, with a massive, flat horn growing out of its upper jaw. All and all, it would be about 8 feet at the shoulder, standing on legs about fourteen inches thick.

At the moment, it is stripping the bark from the aspen tree it has just dropped, and in the process occasionally breaking off the smaller limbs from the tree.

Andrej said...

Knowing what he's up against, but nontheless willing to try Andrej will attempt to identify the creature using his clerical knowledge of legendary beats. Perhaps being 2nd level will sufficieintly increase his efficacy. Meanwhile, he'll try to quietly indicate tohis companions they should not look upon the creature or provoke it in any way.

Avel said...

I will stare at the thing at first. Once Andrej corrects me, I will hide my face with my shield.

Alexis said...

The name of it Andrej doesn't know; only that it is clearly related to a horse and now a cow; and very definitely also related to a rhino, which Andrej has never seen. Andrej would also guess the creature is foul-tempered, and although herbivorous still very dangerous to approach.

At present, Avel, it is far enough away and not directly facing you or Andrej, so there is little chance of angering it by looking at it.

"What is it?" Ferka asks.

Andrej said...

"Dangerous" Andrej shall reply. "What it is called, I know not, but clearly it is a magical beast... and I suspect of a foul temper. Have your folk seen or heard rumors of this thing before, Ferka?"

Andrej said...

At this point also Andrej would like to move he and his fellows to a safer distance, back toward the carriage.

Alexis said...

Ferka shakes his head. "Never," he answers. "How will you kill it?"

Avel said...

"Perhaps it is best to simply leave it alone? At least for the moment. I doubt any of us are prepared to attempt to take down something of that size. I don't exactly have a ballista hidden in the carriage."

Alexis said...

Ferka turns to Avel, saying, "But Herr Albert has promised to keep us safe from all predators. What if it does not leave?"

Andrej said...

"Herr Albert is a mirage, Ferka. A convenient lie whose purpose is to dupe you out of your coins. He'll no more protect you from that thing than he will ride upon it to Munich. Though, it may be interesting to see what this false Hornung does decide to do once he discovers it... Let us stand back and observe this thing for a time."

Andrej will want to wait this thing out... see how long it sticks around.

Alexis said...

Then may I assume that Andrej and Avel then wait until dark?

Andrej said...

I'm OK with that if Avel is.

Avel said...

I'm fine with it. Unless the thing starts making aggressive movements, I've no desire to fight it.

Alexis said...

The beast continues to snuffle around for the remainder of the day. At one point it comes quite close to the gypsy settlement, causing people to pull back very concerned from their houses and up the slope towards the gatehouse.

Ferka and three other men, who are introduced to you as Gunari, Mihai and Yoska, approach Andrej and Avel. "Can we do nothing at all? Surely we could stand back and throw stones at it."

Avel said...

"Andrej, this thing is going to prove to be a danger. While I hesitate to try to kill it, I think we can harry it or drive it away.

If someone can provide me with a great many javelins, I can try to pull it towards the treeline?"

Andrej said...

"I would not wish to raise the ire of this creature lightly, men. We must practice some patience and resolve, here. Let us see it out through the night. We shall post two guards at all times unitl sunrise to watch and warn the camp as necessary. If by monring the thing has not wandered off, we shall determine another course. Agreed?"

Alexis said...

Ferka wishes to withdraw his people into the gatehouse, with Andrej's permission.

Avel said...

I will start assisting in moving people into the gatehouse.

Alexis said...

The door to the gatehouse is in fairly good shape, and opens easily. Avel begins to guess that it isn't quite as deserted as expected ... and upon entering, you find on the main floor about a three quarters of a ton of dried peat, cut and stacked, and the floor covered with peat that is only half dried.

"It is how we pay our rent," explains Ferka.

Andrej said...

Andrej shall keep watch on the creature while Avel gets Ferka and his people settled.

Avel said...

"Of course. Come, let us get the others settled."

I'll help Ferka get everyone set up as best we can. Then I will return to Andrej.

Alexis said...

(OOC: Good. It's been crazy today, fellas, I've been wrapping up stuff to get out of here; it is Canada Day tomorrow so I'm off work, and will probably post from home. I'll get a new thread going, describing the inside of the keep - I don't feel at this point its necessary to draw up a map, but let me know if that's an issue.

Just as a reminder, both the dried peat and the meat on the monster wandering around outside are worth coin)

Andrej said...

(No issue yet re: map, but depending on how things play out when the other Hornung gets here with his hired muscle I might like to see one. Enjoy your day off. I'll likewise be out on Monday due to the holiday, but will check in between then and now.)