Monday, October 24, 2011

Across the Weser to Oldenburg

Saturday, August 16, 1650
With cool temperatures and cloudy conditions.  A gentle breeze brings no rain.

The morning on the bank of the Weser and the temperature has dipped a little ... but it appears to be another fine day.  The ferry operator gets everything ready, and horses and carts can together be put on to take them across.  The ferryman asks to be paid before you leave, a total of 3 c.p. per animal and 7 c.p. per person.  The cart the ferryman will not ask to be paid for.

The Weser is nearly a mile wide, and the Ferry is both poled and sailed across by four men, including the ferryman.  It takes surprisingly little time, as the breeze is caught by the lateen sail and soon enough the ferry slides right across on the wind.  The ferryman inquires as to where the party is going, and without thinking Emmanuel mentions Oldenburg.  The ferryman promises to point out the way, and when the party debarks on the other side he indeed does so.  The Oldenburg road, which will get the party to Engelke, must first be reached by means of another secondary passage over a half-cobblestoned by-way, like the one south of Cuxhaven except a good deal less marshy.

Mid-day approaches and the weather holds, temperatures turning pleasant.  The meadow fields are filled with poppies, the trees about are supporting apples and some northern pears, and now and then is a wide field brilliant yellow with rape or white-and-green with clover, picked over by dozens of fat cattle.

Just past noon, the road meets with a good sized stream flowing eastwards towards where the Weser valley ought to be (behind you now), and you pass a road marker saying that Oldenburg is 8 miles away (you ought to be there before nightfall).  A bit beyond that you find a curious thing.  A man is standing in the middle of the road ahead, with his back to you, and with a piece of string between his hands.  He appears to be stretching the string out the length of his arms and measuring the width of the sky above the road.  He measures it at three and a half lengths of string, seems unhappy about that, and so returns to the right side of the road and does it again.  You see him do it three times altogether before you come within ear-shot.  He seems completely unaware of you.

He's tall, about six-foot-two, weighing perhaps 160 lbs., and wearing a tight brown jacket and breeches, but no robe or cloak.  You cannot see any equipment about the man, or any weapon he might be carrying.  To learn more than that you would need to get closer.

43 comments:

Nine-toes said...

Ninetoes will approach and hail him.

Ahmet said...

Ahmet ignores the man and rides on.

A few moments later, realizing Ninetoes has stopped, he reins up his horse and turns it around so he can see their conversation.

Then, assuming the man doesn't immediately attack, begin an incantation or foam at the mouth, Ahmet loses interest and looks down the road from whence they came, wondering if they're still being pursued. He'll trot past Ninetoes and the rest of the group, heading a few hundred yards down the road they came from to see if he notices any signs of a pursuer.

Silvius Volundr said...

Silvius will dismount and take in what the man is doing, fascinated. He realizes that this man is likely insane, but the actions are mesmorizing and confusing.

Alexis said...

The man responds to Nine-toes, clearly indicating he did not know he was being observed. He tucks the string away sheepishly, then begins to stride towards the party. Hearing range is a good 120 feet, so there is plenty of time before he reaches you. He still has nothing in his hands. He waves to you as he approaches, and you can see within forty feet that his clothes are those of a gentleman, but well-worn and marginally in need of repair.

Alexis said...

(OOC: I am needing a bit of information about the party's sleeping habits at night - do you have a tent, do you sleep under the stars, etc.)

Silvius Volundr said...

(OOC: I swore that I bought a bedroll, but I guess I did not. Silvius sleeps under the stars, using his pack as a pillow, unless the cart is available. In that case, he sleeps beneath it.)

Nine-toes said...

(OOC - I have a blanket and (I think) a bedroll, so under the stars for me.)

I wave back.

"I am Ninetoes, lately of Cuxhaven and an associate of giant crab-slayers. Who might you be good sir?"

Alexis said...

If he had a hat he would doff it; but he has no hat. Nevertheless, he approaches to within six yards, touches his head and bows slightly. "Jack Buchanan, at your service sirs. Ah, hem, pardon me for that display, I was performing a small experiment. There's a very interesting force-line that runs across the road just over there" (he points to where he was standing on the road) "- but for some reason does not quite reach those trees over there." (he points). "I'd heard that force-lines sometimes ended, but this is my first observation of it. So I was measuring the width here and was planning to venture across the meadow there and measure the width at the end. Hardly scientific, I know, but ..."; he shrugs; "How does one measure a force-line, exactly?"

Nine-toes said...

"Forgive my ignorance, sir, but what would a force line be, exactly? Can anyone see it, or persons sensitive to them?"

Alexis said...

(OOC: I am building a table that will punish you for your method of travelling, punish you depending upon your sleeping arrangements, punish you according to the weather and so on. Silvius will suffer a bit on account of not having a bedroll. I'm deliberately being vague here; the party will find they need to rest a day here and there if they do not want to take damage.

Silvius Volundr said...

"I see nothing, Mr. Buchanan. You say it is close?"

Alexis said...

Jack looks at Nine-toes in surprise, then a sort of benevolent condescension. "Well, let's see; a magic user in order to cast a spell must tap into a power source of some kind, no? Obviously, it's convenient if this power source is immediate and available - force-lines proliferate the use of magic, which in turn encourages the birth of children who will grow to become magic-users. Most wizards eventually learn to draw power directly from the Earth, and are not dependent upon force-lines, but if you want to create a great deal of magic in a singularity, the sort that creates, say, a powerful artifact, you'll need to seek out a force-line that ... you realize, this is merely a hobby of mine. It's not in the way of general interest, of course."

Alexis said...

"Oh yes," he says to Silvius. "Right from those trees to right over there, then over the horizon in that direction." Jack stops, and sniffs the air. "Say, you haven't got a bit of meat you could spare?"

Nine-toes said...

"I am fascinated by that which I do not fully understand, which is most everything, I'm afraid. But then, I never lack for entertainment, good sir, whenever I find someone willing to indulge my questions."

"How is it you can see the force line if the subject is but a hobby for you? Have you some skill with magic?"

Nine-toes said...

"And I'm afraid I have nought to offer you but a bit of unleavened bread, but you are welcome to it if you fancy it, sir."

Silvius Volundr said...

Silvius is not certain that the man is no toying with him, but noting the serious look on his face, he does not laugh or argue. He produces some bacon from his pack and hands it to Jack without another word.

(OOC: RE: Travelling Damage. I was worried that we were not being punished for something. Glad that I can put that concern to rest!)

Alexis said...

To answer Silvius, "I have talent of a sort, sir, that I come by most honestly, if not always with the blessing of fate. I am down on my luck, and that is a fact sir. Talented and missible, that is my tale."

To Nine-toes, Jack says, "I will take at this time what I can have, and if you offer bread, I shall take bread." At Silvius's offer, he will answer, "Better, better ... perhaps bacon and bread together could be spared."

Silvius Volundr said...

"What sort of talent is that, Mr. Buchanan? You can see things that others cannot?"

Nine-toes said...

Ninetoes gives him a loaf of bread.

"How came you by misfortune? Thieves are common enough in these parts, well I know."

Alexis said...

Point in fact, both Nine-toes and Andrej can "see things others cannot," and Silvius has had proof of it.

"No," says Jack. "I am a simple caster. And I have come by my misfortune as honestly as my trade. I have quested for it."

Nine-toes said...

"Of course, a quest. Silvius, do we dare ask the man what his quest may be?"

Silvius Volundr said...

"How can we not, Ninetoes. The man is a near wretch."

"Mr. Buchanan, we are humble travelers but if there is something that we could do to aid you we should hear it."

Alexis said...

"Give me food, give me bread, give me a little meat and be companions upon the road and I shall be as comfortable as a king," says Jack.

Nine-toes said...

"What say the Ahmet and brother Andrej on having another mouth to feed?"

Andrej said...

(OOC: Guys, tough day for me. I regret that I won't be around much until tomorrow. Please continue, and good luck with Jack.)

Andrej stays close to his friend Ahmet, keeping close eye on the road and finding some small amusement with Buchanan and his companions.

Ahmet said...

Assuming Ahmet sees nothing after circling back to see if there were any signs of someone following on the road...

Ahmet rides back to the group.

"Who is this f-," he pauses, "fellow, and why do we tarry with him? We have a long road ahead of us, gentlemen, and I'm afraid it may not be a safe one."

Nine-toes said...

"This man says he is an amatuer mage, and has asked that we adopt him during our journey, Ahmet. He hasn't a copper or a dried fish to his name, of course. What say you of him travelling with us?"

Ahmet said...

Ahmet leans forward in his saddle to get a look at the man.

"You wish to accompany us? Do you know where we are going?"

Alexis said...

"I would take up only a little space upon your wagon, bayefendi," says Jack, bowing slightly again.

Alexis said...

"Going from here to there, I expect," adds Jack. "I am quite content to leave here, and I'm sure there will offer accommodations no less opportunistic. Does that give me passport to travel with you, bayefendi?"

Alexis said...

(OOC: Ahmet, did you answer the sleeping question? Andrej will probably not find time to answer until tomorrow).

Ahmet said...

(OOC: I have a blanket. I sleep under the stars cuddled with my Teddy Bear, which is my nickname for my military footman's pick. We should buy a couple tents at the next market.)

The corners of Ahmet's mouth turn up at the stranger's use of the word beyefendi. You might even call it a "smile," though it does not reach the Turk's dark eyes.

"Have you been east of the Balkans, my friend?"

Nine-toes said...

(OOC - heh, teddy bear

And yeah, tents would be good. My kingdom for a Rope Trick or a Mordenkainen's Mansion.)

Silvius Volundr said...

(OOC: Sorry guys...jammed up for a bit)

Alexis said...

"East of the Balkans, most assuredly. I have frozen in the passes of Sikkim and warmed again in the adjacent jungles of Gorkhaland. I have dried and thirsted in the Empty Quarter and been bathed the next day in sweet oils and pools of the Hadrumaut sheikdoms. I have seen the great, breathless beasts break the surface of the White Sea, and seen the Red Sea boil. And in all those places I have known ignorance and enlightenment. I seek only to bring a few considerate words to all I can, and I seek words of kindness whenever they can be spared."

Ahmet said...

Ahmet rocks back in his saddle, regarding the man with a dazzled smile -- a real one, this time. "Surely such tales would be worth the cost of sharing some rations."

Nine-toes said...

"Are those real places, Ahmet?

"I confess, my good sir, you are well-spoken even if you are only making all those places up, and I could feel as if I had visited those lands myself for a moment. If the Turk and Sylvius are for you, then I must welcome you to our cart (which belongs to brother Andrej in truth, but I do not think he or Emmanuel will object.)"

Alexis said...

"I will offer any tale you have a mind to hear," says Jack. "But my tongue, I confess, stories much better with wine."

Jack will accept your offer, and if that is good with all, we can move forward ... allowing for any questions one might have for the man.

(OOC: I'm going to be jammed up for a couple of hours, wrapping up my day. I'll try to check in after a bit, answer any questions, but for now I must be gone.)

Silvius Volundr said...

I say we bring this chap along and feed him.

(OOC: if for no other reason than I am dying to see how MUs work and fare in Alexis' world)

Nine-toes said...

(OOC - from his manner of speech and the fact that he says he only dabbles in magic, I would guess he's a bard. Just a stab in the dark.)

Ahmet said...

(OOC: I hope that's the only stab in the dark we have to worry about!)

Alexis said...

Jack Buchanan seems sincerely grateful, and utterly harmless.

(OOC: I shall write the afternoon and evening on the way to Oldenburg tomorrow)

Andrej said...

Regarding sleeping arrangements, Andrej has two blankets and the saddle for his horse. Agree on the tents.

Andrej offers no opposition to taking on Jack nor allowing him to ride upon the cart with Emmanuel, but has not warmed up to the vagabond quite as his companions have.