Monday, October 17, 2011

Return to Cuxhaven

Wednesday, August 13, 1650]
Weather:  warm, clear

The party breaks camp, loads the skiff and Terrell sets about bringing you back to Cuxhaven.  Terrell cannot help at this point to ask most earnestly again about what was aboard the ship, and what the party saw that has kept them talking for so long.  For much of the time Terrell (I presume, since he was being spoken of), was sent off and kept busy by Emmanuel washing the pots, the party's boots, oiling the weapons and so on.

It takes much less time to come back to Cuxhaven than to come out, as Terrell does not need to tack.  He brings the ship in at about 8 knots, and you find yourselves back in the nearby waters in ninety minutes.  The waters are filled with fishermen by that time, spaced over several miles in a sort of cloud in the estuary of the Elbe River.

The party cannot help but notice something quite odd about the fishermen.  For the most party, the skiff comes at nearest a few hundred yards from any of the other boat, but several of the fishermen actually stand in their boats as the familiar skiff comes past.  You see some fishermen point shake their comrades and bring their attention to you, pointing and the like.   One fellow takes off his cap and you can see his lips moving in prayer.

Within good sight of the harbor, you hear a distant horn blow.  This is followed by several others, which continue for two or three minutes, by which time you're within a few hundred yards of the dock you left yesterday morning.

You can see a dozen soldiers on that dock, armed with glaives and shields.  There seem to be a hundred other people besides, and it is quite clear they are looking at you and waiting quietly and patiently for the skiff to arrive.

61 comments:

Ahmet said...

Ahmet stares at the dock. A dozen armed soldiers. If Andrej, Nine-toes and Silvius can take on two each, that leaves (he counts on his fingers) six for himself.

He scowls dubiously, keeps his scimitar sheathed, and folds his arms across his chest.

"Perhaps they've already heard of the shipwreck we found, and are here to thank us," he says dryly.

Nine-toes said...

"I think it more likely that we're thought guilty of kidnapping. Let us hope our explanation and return of the boy will suffice to keep us out of jail. I hope it is no more than that. Gerhardt will not be over-grateful to us for giving the boy's family a scare, mayhap."

Nine-toes said...

"Whatever happens, let us not aggravate the guards and make a bad situation worse."

Nine-toes said...

Ninetoes will keep his hands clear of his weapons.

Silvius Volundr said...

"Oooh. This does not look good. Lads, let us hope that they are so overjoyed to hear about the Pale that they forgets to hang us."

Andrej said...

"No... I believe that these are the soldiers that would have killed the crab had we not done so for them, finally arrived. Gerhard knew us and trusted us enough with the boy and the skiff. We put all back in order upon Neuwark, did we not?"

Andrej furrows his brow and scans the dock for a friendly face: Gerhard's. Is he present? What can I read from his body language if so?

"I say we take the boat close along the docks but do not land as of yet... no sudden moves and hands in plain sight. I'm sure there's a reasonable explanation,and I want to get close enough to hear it, but not too close, eh?"

Andrej said...

Also, while still far enough away to remain subtle Andrej is planning to cast a detect malevolence, trying to time it so that the spell is no further than the mid-point of its duration when the dock and soldiers are within its range. Is this possible Alexis?

Ahmet said...

Ahmet nods at Andrej's words. He keeps his hands empty and his arms folded.

Alexis said...

(OOC: Apologize for my disappearance, all.)

Terrell asks with considerable concern why Andrej would not want to land the boat. "The soldiers have no reason to arrest us - we've done nothing," he says.

There's plenty of time for Andrej to cast his spell; at the range of the spell, he detects no maleavolence at all from any person within range, including the soldiers.

Alexis said...

Moreover, as the party approaches, quite a number of faced on the dock are smiling.

Gerhard comes running up as you come within 10 yards of the dock, huffing and puffing - he's clearly been running for quite some distance, as he's covered in sweat and his hair is wet with it. "Lads! Lads, welcome back!" he shouts across the water. "The lord be with you, you're all well and hearty. They want to bestow and honour upon you!"

Silvius Volundr said...

"Let us hail them and see if they make any demands of us."

Silvius Volundr said...

"Well this is a first..."

Nine-toes said...

"There, see? Nothing to worry about, just as I said."

Andrej said...

(OOC: Well played, Alexis.)

Andrej will direct Terrell to land the boat, of course (assuming nobody objects).

"Just being cautious, lad. A recent experience in Bavaria has taught me that not all homecomings are welcome ones."

Andrej thinks briefly of his friend Delfig, gone and likely dead for all that Andrej knows. A cloud passes over him briefly as he crosses himself then warmly greets Gerhardt, willing to go wherever the throng may wish to take us.

Nine-toes said...

Ninetoes will follow elder brother's lead.

Silvius Volundr said...

Silvius will as well. He is still unsure that the party is in the clear.

"The soldiers are from Hamburg, you think?"

Ahmet said...

Ahmet, quite familiar with rude homecomings himself, continues to scowl but doesn't object to Andrej's new order to land the boat.

Alexis said...

The soldiers inform you, rather cheerfully for soldiers, that you are to be taken to the Town Hall, and thence to the town square. The Magistrate Appointee, that is the Mayor of Cuxhaven, wishes to look you over.

Do you consent to this?

Silvius Volundr said...

Silvius readily consents.

Nine-toes said...

I accept.

Ahmet said...

Ahmet nods stiffly.

Andrej said...

Andrej consents, but is not entirely comfortable with the attention. He keeps a sharp eye out.

Nine-toes said...

"Go with the tide, brother," Ninetoes says quietly to Andrej. "If it turns out to be a riptide, save your strength for the swim back to shore."

Andrej said...

to silvius in regards to the origin of the soldiers: "I'd say so, yes."

Alexis, is it obvious from their livery or some other sign that these soldiers are from Hamburg?

Andrej said...

to Ninetoes: A meaningful glance and slow nod. "To the town hall, then."

Alexis said...

Trusting Andrej, the soldiers surround you and lead you towards the Town Hall. The crowd follows along, interested and quietly, keeping their distance but clearly wondering about the four men being taken through town.

At the hall, you're brought in the main foyer, then up to the second floor and to the ante-chamber of the Mayor's office. Three busy-looking clerks surrounded by papers and books are writing vigourously.

You're called in, and a set of double doors with burnished bronze plating are opened to allow you inside. A rich oak floor, drapery and a dozen pictures of previous mayors decorate the room, along with a large desk and several short pillars with shipping statuary upon them.

The mayor is a lean, tall man with grey-and-red hair, a thin mustache, with the unusual addition of pince nez.

He rises, comes around the desk, and looks at you all.

"A muslim," he says, to the guard. "And my God, this one's a catholic. Are these really the men?"

Alexis said...

Ah, its moot now, but yes these are clearly Hamburgian soldiers.

Nine-toes said...

Ninetoes will remain silent (but trying to look cheerful) under the disapproving stare of the mayor.

Silvius Volundr said...

Silvius wrings his hands and tries to affix his most charming smile on his plain face.

Andrej said...

"Three catholics, to be precise my lord, but I'm working on dear Ahment here."

(four, I believe, if Emmanuel is present)

Andrej stands erect then offers the mayor a respectful bow, but otherwise maintains an air of confidence and amusement. "But we are men of commerce and of the world, are we not Herr Mayor? Our concerns go beyond the merely provincial?

Alexis said...

(Yes, the forgotten Emmanuel. He was not requested, and will be standing outside the town hall, looking somewhat worried)

"You and me, yes," says the Mayor. "We can ignore these petty differences, and I could even respect you - but it will not do, no it will not. At least these two other men," - he says, pointing at Silvius and Nine-toes; "- do not look Catholic. They might get by."

Nine-toes said...

"If I may ask, Lord Mayor, 'get by' for what?"

Silvius Volundr said...

Silvius misunderstands the Mayor's meaning, and his face flushes.

"But I were only baptised a day or so back. I will get better at...looking Catholic. Promised meself that I would work on it, I did."

Andrej said...

Andrej is silent and not offended, awaiting to see if the mayor answers Nine-Toes's question.

Andrej said...

And somewhat amused but pleased with Silvius's earnest mistake.

Ahmet said...

Ahmet says nothing and just stands there looking like a mighty crab-slayer.

Alexis said...

"Let me describe what's happened," says the Mayor, whose name indentally is Johann Helksmueller. "As I understand it, you men arrived at the island on Monday this week past. The guards were meant to arrive on Friday or Saturday, but as it happens they were delayed until Monday morning. Never mind by what. They learned the story that the crab was killed, and set about searching the island. In the east lagoon they found that the crab had laid two hundred eggs ... which thankfully had required the mother's attention to that point, and which had died. If not for you men, we would have likely lost the use of the lighthouse for perhaps a week, and possibly precious men besides.

"We are therefore most grateful, and a ceremony is planned to honor you all. But obviously we cannot publically hold up a Catholic priest and a muslim. Not to mention that the priest is ... ah ... that is to say ..."

Silvius Volundr said...

"They don't like orcs in Cuxhaven?"

Nine-toes said...

(looking a little sick)

"200 crabs eggs... did you say. Might those have had a market value had they been salvaged... in time?"

Alexis said...

The Mayor looks fairly non-plussed at Silvius and answers with a curt, "No."

Alexis said...

The mayor will ignore Nine-toes question, rather pointedly.

Silvius Volundr said...

"Ah. Well then. I have never been one for looking back, but would they have preferred that a couple hundred of them things had hatched?"

"In any event, if the good people of Cuxhaven will not forgive a man his birth, then I have no interest in seeing this ceremony and what not. You, Ninetoes?"

Ahmet said...

Ahmet shrugs. "Perhaps the best solution would be if we left town, and four other men were brought forward as the heroic crab-slayers of Neuwark Island. Our travel arrangements could be arranged quite swiftly if only we had a bit of coin..."

Andrej said...

"Not so hasty, friends. I'm sure the Lord Mayor is merely being practical and not at all personally biased. We are just over the crest of some most troubling times, there is no need to pick at old wounds, long healed over."

Andrej paces the room briskly, enjoying the moment and the mayor's possible discomfort.

"I think the public ceremony should go as planned, the two heroes of Neuwark rightly celebrated. Their humble servants will be amidst the crowd, or perhaps back at our inn rooms, quiet and out of sight and counting the many, many thanks provided to us by the good burghers of Cuxhaven and Hamburg. That is to say, no doubt the saving of the lighthouse and any lost revenue along with our continued good faith and discretion and cooperation will no doubt be rewarded somehow I take it, Herr Mayor?"

Nine-toes said...

"Stupid, stupid rock-headed monk! Silvius even made some mention of looking for the crab's lair."

(Tries to recover himself at the thought that they might have sold the eggs.)

"(Ahem) As to the ceremony, it would seem up to Ahmet and Andrej, as they are the injured parties here (if injury there be). Would you consent to be disguised, perhaps (if such a thing is even possible)? Would the Lord be offended (or either of you, for that matter) if you posed as that which you are not?"

Andrej said...

"I will not pose nor dance upon a stage, I am a man of god and no mummer. But that is not to say I will not be absent from and discrete regarding the ceremony should I feel adequate thanks given to us all in a private and more practical manner. Ahmet?

Alexis said...

Answering Ahmet, the Mayor will say, "That is perhaps a solution, but I do not have four convenient, tough-looking men available. Nor do I wish to give additional money to keep silent the fishmonger Gerhard - who has boasted these last two days about finding you and his dinner served to the Prince. No, I am afraid that I am somewhat pressed to make use of what I have ..."

Answering Andrej,

"That is an excellent plan, Herr Friar. And may I say I appreciate your reasonableness in this matter. And you may rely upon rewards given in good faith and discretion as well."

Silvius Volundr said...

Silvius turns to Andrej and shrugs his shoulders, mouthing the words, "the ship"? to him.

Andrej said...

"Might I suggest toasting Herr Gerhard and either or both of the lighthouse attendants should you need to fill out the head table? That settled, and provided that my companions are in agreement, when would the ceremony take place, Herr Helksmueller? We were hoping to be on the road to attend to other matters after making report of a wreck we discovered. It is a hazard to navigation, doubly tricky as a result of a hex placed upon it. With the help of the boy Terrell we found it,not two miles south of Scarhorn.

Alexis said...

The ship would probably be on Andrej's mind as well, so no need to make an INT check to see if Andrej understood.

Andrej said...

Andrej nods to Silvius.

Ahmet said...

Ahmet shrugs. "I do not want to strut upon the stage either. Do what you will."

Andrej said...

(OOC: Regrettably I'll be offline for the rest of the day. Feel free to take the lead on resolving matters with the mayor, gents. We don't want to have to stick around town too long. If the ceremony is some time off, we may need to consider splitting the party or begging off so that we tie up any loose ends in Emden.)

Alexis said...

The mayor had planned merely an acknowledgement ceremony in the town square; a small decoration, a small sum and a small gift, if Silvius and Nine-toes can bring themselves to willingly stand in for Ahmet and Andrej. The Mayor will reassure that there will be an equal sum and gift given to the two persons who do not attend the ceremony.

Otherwise, the Mayor will be most unhappy and not being able to acknowledge the party in a manner befitting the town, which would make the town unhappy, and of course persons known for making a town unhappy might find themselves better suited to be on a road out of town.

Nine-toes said...

Ninetoes will accede to Andrej's plan. If neither he nor Ahmet are offended, then neither is the monk.

Silvius Volundr said...

Reluctantly, Silvius agrees to the ceremony without half of his party.

He starts to cheer up a little when he realizes that without Andrej and Ahmet present, there will be less chance of someone correcting the cornucopia of lies he plans on telling about how the crab perished.

Nine-toes said...

(OOC - I didn't say so at the time, but I appreciated the Princess Bride reference at the top of the comments. Very appropriate, considering Entertainment Weekly just did a piece on the cast reunion.)

Alexis said...

(OOC: At his best he could never handle that many.

Today has been just stupid all day. And it is looking as though the week will not improve. All the same, we shall pick this up tomorrow)

The mayor is all smiles at the acquiescence of the party.

Ahmet said...

(OOC: Thanks all! One of my favorite movies. Always looking for a chance to work it in. Just wait 'til I find a Holocaust Cloak!)

James C. said...

Also one of my faves, but I must admit that the reference slipped right by me until it was pointed out.

Alexis said...

This is continued on the next post.