Friday, January 20, 2012

Munster in the Morning; a Startling Revelation

Thursday, September 4, 1650


Weather:  with cool temperatures and overcast conditions, with a fresh breeze.

The next morning, the house bustles about getting itself in order for the day.  Emmanuel looks over the equipment, the men-at-arms express their amazement at their sudden change in fortune, Ahmet glowers about at every new thing, Andrej says a prayer or two to obtain his spells back ... and Nine-toes completes his ablutions, heads back to the main floor and finds himself face-to-face with Fatima.

She has been given new clothes to wear by Serafina, who is standing just behind her - and now that she is clean and wearing garb that Nine-toes identifies with his southern German heritage (for Serafina obtained a whole new wardrobe there), he is stunned to discover how beautiful Fatima really is:  with olive, Mediterranean skin, and chestnut brown eyes, with sooty black hair, thick and coarse and with a very healthy growth, now combed out and resting in curls upon her shoulders.

Meanwhile, downstairs, a messenger arrives at the house - a lesser deacon, who bears a written word from the Prince-Bishop of Munster.  Eberhardt reads it in the hall while the early meal is prepared, as the party settles down to tea, and his face darkens.  He reads it for all to hear:

Herr Hornung,

You will please forgive me if I find I shall have to return immediately to my estates at Hochsauerland to manage troubles there.  I extend my apologies to you and to your charming bride, for I find my attendance in Munster cannot be managed.  I leave immediately, and will be gone this day before the sun rises; I have made arrangements for the Prefect of Ahlen to perform your wedding.

Yours,
His Holiness the Archbishop Ferdinand von Bayern,
Prince-Bishop of Cologne, Hildesheim, Liege, Munster and Paderborn

"Estates?" roars Hornung.  "Is there a rebellion?  Is there a WAR?  What treachery is this?"

92 comments:

Nine-toes said...

(OOC - I'm assuming Andrej and Ahmet brought Ninetoes up to speed on what he missed last night. If that's incorrect, let me know.)

Ninetoes whispers to Andrej, "He made mention to you of dopplegangers, creatures that mimic any other creature, yes? Could they have gotten to the bishop somehow, or perhaps even impersonated him?"

Andrej said...

Andrej stands nearby but silent to his friend and benefactor Hornung, remembering the man's fearsome reputation before the events in Dachau softened his heart. Is Serafina present as the letter is read? What is her reaction?

Andrej said...

"That was in Dachau, brother, many miles from us now. I suspect some new trouble is upon us."

Ahmet said...

Ahmet grumbles as he realizes this means he won't be able to talk to the dead guy they lugged around last night. He was curious about how he would go about interrogating a corpse, and looking forward to trying it.

Alexis said...

Serafina is present; she declines to speak. Eberhardt looks at the rest of you, and speaks to the deacon.

"We require a cleric able to speak with the dead," he says. "And we require a meeting between the Prefect and this man here, Father Andrej. See to it!"

The deacon looks at Andrej and quite visibly looks puzzled at Andrej's appearance. But he gives his assent and goes.

Eberhardt will then take his leave, explaining to Serafina that he will need to look into an explanation for this irrational departure. He leaves without taking breakfast.

Andrej said...

Andrej takes his breakfast and does his best to lighten the mood some. With the help of Ninetoes and Ahmet he relates stories to Serafina of our recent exploits. With the help of Serafina and Emmanuel, should the latter be present, he relates the tale of our journey to and from Sion for the escorting of Serafina to Dachau.

Nine-toes said...

Ninetoes is very disappointed that the corpse will not be questioned, as he loves any demonstration of magic, divine or otherwise. (Not that he would call the workings of the divine by the appellation 'magic' within Andrej's ears.)

Andrej said...

(OOC: Based on what Hornung told the deacon, questioning the dead is still in play)

Ahmet said...

(OOC: I hope so... that'll be fun.)

Andrej said...

Other than the above stated action, Andrej waits to hear back from the deacon or prefect regarding the speak w/ dead or the meeting.

He is dressed in his priest's attire, which was luckily freshly laundered in Meppen and until today, has been safely packed away. Andrej should be looking his best and most priestly.

Nine-toes said...

Ninetoes takes his breakfast and then dresses in his adventurer's gear, as it is the best clothes he owns.

"Elder Brother, should I buy something better to wear in town? I do not wish to offend your friend."

Alexis said...

Serafina will finish breakfast and express a need to continue the preparations for her marriage. She will give word to the house servants to look after the party, and will leave with a group of three other women servants.

Before the party rushes off, word will come back with the deacon that a speak with dead spell cannot be arranged for any time before Saturday evening, the night of the wedding. The one cleric known to be able to cast the spell has been sent for, and must come from his estates west of Munster.

Andrej said...

Andrej gives a low chuckle, "Kurt, my dear friend, you look fine. Serafina cares nothing for your attire. Her beauty is only matched by her kindness and wisdom. Eberhard, for his part, is not some empty noble flitting from tea room to ballroom. As a paladin he is a soldier and a pious man above all else. I believe whatever good impression you could have made upon him was made when you leaped without hesitation to capture Fatima's captors. Dress however you feel most comfortable. Your presence does the house honor."

Nine-toes said...

"Elder Brother, do you remember the cross in the hands of the man in the alley? Could the men he was involved with... I mean to say... it couldn't be that members of the holy catholic Church would do such deeds, could it? You are my guide in such things, as always. Please tell me: could men who cared enough to give a corpse last rights be involved with assassins and kidnappings?"

Andrej said...

"I do remember the cross, and it troubles me also. I look forward to Saturday evening when we may perhaps gain some clarity."

"Speaking of which, do you think it a good idea to place Joost and Klaas to watch over the body? I trust our friends here, but with all that is going on I think it wise that we ensure the body is here when Saturday evening comes. What are your thoughts?"

Alexis said...

You overhear two of the servants speaking in the kitchen, at a moment when a servant opens the door while bringing out the tea. "Watching the house?" says one. "What would they be doing that for? As if the house were apt to go somewhere."

Andrej said...

Andrej motions to the servant bringing the tea. "Those two just now speaking of somebody watching the house, could you please send them to us?"

Nine-toes said...

"What's that then? Who is watching the house?"

Alexis said...

The two servants come in; goodwives, somewhat stained from the kitchen work, both portly with friendly faces. "Yesssirs?" they both ask, slurring their words a bit.

Andrej said...

"Goodwives, I could not help but to overhear your conversation as the tea was brought out. I believe one of you said something about the house being watched. This house? Who?"

Alexis said...

"Pardon me, F'ther, it weren't us that saw them. It t'was the gong merchant - he said there was two persons watchin' the house, a man and a woman he said, and her dressed like a tart on the game in full daylight."

Andrej said...

"Is the merchant still here? When did this happen?"

Alexis said...

(GCI: a gong 'merchant' is the fellow who collects the feces each house produces daily or semi-daily, carrying it off to a pit made for the purpose, that had several medieval uses)

"I don' know, F'ther ... moved on with his rounds I'd be guessing," says the goodwife.

Ahmet said...

(OOC: They're stealing our feces!)

Andrej said...

(OOC: Ahh, and here I assumed he was selling gongs door-to-door. That makesmuch more sense.)

(OOC: I don't know about you guys, but I've been saving my feces in Ahmet's backpack)

"Goodwives, did the gong merchant say where these two were stationed?"

Nine-toes said...

(OOC - HA! Remind me not to eat anything out of Ahmet's backpack.)

Alexis said...

(OOC: gong. Yay wikipedia. Note that sometimes gong was paid for, thus merchant, not farmer)

"'E did not," says the other goodwife. "Th'y we're out the back, I'd say."

Andrej said...

"Thank you goodwives, you have done our company and your master a great service this day." Andrej blesses the two women and allows them to leave should they desire it.

Turning to his friends, "Call me a fool but I have seen too much lucky happenstance and coincidence occur in Munster to doubt this. Emmanuel, please fetch me my cloak from the room. Ensure the hood is with it."

Stopping, regarding his friends intently, "I have reason to believe this pair is known to me and I to them. I believe the woman killed our friend Friar Jan in cold blood. I spoke brashly to them during a coach ride as our friend Delfig perceived they were running from some trouble then. I was indelicate in pointing this out, being somewhat proud and foolish. This eventually caused the death of my good friend, a devout man of god. Many days have passed since then, but each and every one of them are occupied by thoughts of Jan and my role in his death. I would lay eyes upon these two myself to see if they are the same. Then I would see that justice is served for us all."

Andrej awaits Emmanuel's return with his cloak.

Ahmet said...

"I'll join you," says Ahmet, eager to hurt something.

(OOC: Presumably I'm still in my adventurer's garb. It will likely take too long to change into my armor, so I'll just try to dodge!)

Alexis said...

You're dressed. Where do you intend to go?

Andrej said...

"Nay Ahmet, for this moment I simply go to look and pray I don't arouse their suspicion. Only I or Emmanuel would remember them. I hope for us to choose a time and place for the meting out of justice that gives us the greatest possible advantage. These two are extremely dangerous, Jan was a greater cleric than I."

"Ninetoes, I would say putting Joost and Klaas on guard duty over the body of our kidnapping friend has become even more urgent. Whatever mischief those two outside have planned may already be put in motion. Ahmet, would you watch my back?"

Ahmet said...

(OOC: Do we have Silvius as an NPC, or is he not with us? I'd like to have someone watch Fatima as well.)

Andrej said...

"I don't need a crowd watching me leave, so please don't hover about."

Andrej pulls the hood of his cloak over his head, doing his best to conceal his identity. His maces are hidden beneath his cloak. He leaves the palast from whichever door the gong merchant would have used. He will ask the goodwives if necessary. What does he see?

Alexis said...

Silvius cannot continue to be with you.

Andrej will go through the kitchen, which takes him to the yard, an area about a quarter acre surrounded by a 9 foot stone fence; there is a tall iron gate at the far side of it, and once Andrej can see through the gate, he will get a surprise.

It is not town, as he expected, but a large, open field on the other side of a wide country-like road, with recently cut wheat and picked apple and plum trees. Approaching the gate, he can see more and more without giving away his presence - a half a mile away, the wall of the city of Munster, extending in a great circle beyond and below the back wall of Hornung's palace.

There is no one there watching, but a few hundred yards away are a cluster of forty ramshackle buildings in a low gully, populated no doubt by day laborers and villeins.

Andrej said...

How long would it take Andrej to walk to the cluster of buildings at a brisk walking pace?

Ahmet said...

Ahmet lingers by the doorway, watching Andrej. If Andrej walks to the cluster of buildings, Ahmet moves to the gate to continue watching him.

Alexis said...

15 rounds ... 12 seconds a round.

Andrej said...

And how long is a turn, again?

Alexis said...

10 rounds.

Andrej said...

Andrej begins walking toward the cluster. Once halfway there or upon seeing somebody I'd like the opportunity to declare another action.

Alexis said...

There are several women, cooking, mending, sitting together on stools outside in the cool air, and children running about dressed in ragged clothing. Two young boys in their early teens are fixing the side wall of a hut. This is what you see from about fifty yards away.

The gully has about a hundred houses, over all, stretching down towards an orchard, and quite some ways away an army troop, hidden by the edge of the hill, seems to be organizing itself ... but that is hundreds of yards further away, and to your left, from the cluster of poor houses.

Andrej said...

Andrej approaches the women, allowing his cloak to open and reveal his vestments. "Bless you, ladies. Might I have a brief word with you?"

Alexis said...

"Aye, you're an odd lookin' one, aren't you? Hey, Frieda, come look at this one! Have ya ever seen anything so odd lookin'?" So says one woman.

Another adds, "Father, is it? If y're here peddlin' for money, yer wastin' yer time, and if yer here peddlin' the almighty, we've 'eard it afore!"

Andrej said...

Andrej smiles away the urge to beat upon their heads. "No, I've come to peddle nothing, but perhaps a few coins would ease your burdens, aye?" Andrej hands out 12 silvers total to those present. "I suppose I am strange looking to you. I am Father Andrej of Cumana, a land far from here where those of my sort are more common. But I am a priest of the church, as you noted. Frieda, tell me. Have there been strangers about the area this day? Perhaps watching the house over yonder?" Andrej indicates Hornung's palace.

Alexis said...

Frieda and the other women are much moved by the 'donation.' "Aye, aye, there was ... a gentleman and a strumpet, going thataway," she says, pointing down the gulley into the lower center of the shelters.

Andrej said...

"Is today the first day that you have seen them?"

Alexis said...

The four women (Frieda included) break into peals of laughter. "Well, they don't live 'round here!"

Andrej said...

Andrej, smiling still, "Have any others seen their sort? Do you know where they might hve gone? Was there anything else unusual about them, perhaps in their manner or speech?"

Alexis said...

This will send them into a series of ribald, humorous mockings, where they pretend to be prostitutes while declaring that surely, the woman was just like them. It's quite clear that neither the gentleman nor his lady were anything except 'unusual.'

Ahmet said...

Ahmet continues to watch Andrej as he stands by the gate. (OOC: I'm assuming he's too far away to hear the conversation.) He scans around looking for anyone who appears to be watching Andrej or the house, skulking about, or otherwise suspicious.

Nine-toes said...

Ninetoes ask Klaas to join him in watching the body.

Alexis said...

Ahmet sees nothing of interest, and is correct that he cannot hear anything of Andrej's conversation.

Klaas is uncomfortable with the idea, but once reassured that he won't have to touch the body or bury it, he's fine.

Andrej said...

(Sorry gents, my company firewall was blocking access to the site today. I was worried. It appears to be clear now, though. Not sure what was going on)

Andrej smiles still, "Do you have any idea where the two might have gone?"

Alexis said...

As before, she points down the gulley into the lower center of the shelters. "Give 'em love from me, dearie!" says Frieda.

Andrej said...

"In all seriousness, stay clear of those two. They are dangerous, though they may not look it."

Andrej reaches in for 12 more silvers to hand out to the ladies. "We never spoke, and you never saw me here, if you take my meaning."

"If they return, send word to the palast and ask for me, Father Andrej. You must not allow these two to know it, however, so be discrete. I have more silver for you all should we be warned in time to lay eyes upon one or the other."

Assuming nothing further is said or done by these four, Andrej returns to the palast to speak with Ahmet and Ninetoes.

(OOC: Did you ever hear from Silvius, Alexis?)

Alexis said...

(OOC: I never did. I'm still keeping an open mind, or rather an open space for him, should he reappear)

Consider that Andrej has returned to Ahmet and Nine-toes.

Andrej said...

Andrej directs Emmanuel to watch the back of the palast under some pretext of working there. If word is sent from below that the pair has been spotted he is to pay the messenger 20 silvers, which I hand over.

He then fills Ahmet and Ninetoes in on what he learned.

"We can wait here... or we can return to the gulley in force." Andrej gets that gleam in his eye on the latter.

"I fear for one thing that should we stumble forth we'll be caught unawares or that these two might slip the noose. Also, we do not know what it is they want. Do they return for Fatima? Do they return to prevent us communicating with the body? Are we embroiled in something even deeper then we suspect? Should we, therefore, rather wait and watch?"

Ahmet said...

As usual, there is no doubt as to which path Ahmet would rather take. But first he sends for Joost (as Klaas is with Ninetoes watching the corpse) and tells him to guard Fatima.

"I am afraid while we are charging in over there, they will be sneaking in here," he grumbles.

(OOC: If Ahmet isn't already wearing his mithril plate (I forget), he will put it on now, with his cloak over it. He'll wear his scimitar on his belt and carry his pick ax, leaving the shield behind.)

Nine-toes said...

"I assume if you had power to track these two you would have employed it, yes? Chasing down alleys could result in one of us with a poison dart in the back. Or, while we were out, the body might be taken. Then again, if they are so powerful, why do they not simply butcher us now where we stand? Still, taking action sits better with my spirit than waiting and doing nothing."

Nine-toes said...

"I assume if you had power to track these two you would have employed it, yes? Chasing down alleys could result in one of us with a poison dart in the back. Or, while we were out, the body might be taken. Then again, if they are so powerful, why do they not simply butcher us now where we stand? Still, taking action sits better with my spirit than waiting and doing nothing."

Andrej said...

"I have spells for detecting malevolence or intent that could aid in tracking them down, but I cannot track them directly Ninetoes, and we would need to be in closer proximity for the spells to be of any use."

"If these two are who I believe they are, then they are powerful but they are not invincible. I prefer to meet them on agreeable terms. Right now we know they observe us, but do they know that we know? It is my hope that they do not. Our best course of action might be to set a trap for them and wait... at least until after the wedding."

Andrej will likewise be dressing in his armor.

Andrej said...

Andrej dresses in his armor

Andrej said...

"Here is what I propose, then. Ahmet, you find Fatima and stay with her, keeping Joost. Nineteos, you stay with Klaas and the body for now. Emmanuel will be watching the back of the manor. I wish to make some inquiries with the household staff and will be making rounds between you all. Stay vigilant."

Alexis, is there a castellan, majordomo or chief of staff sort of position here? Somebody who is overall in charge of the running of the house?

Andrej said...

Also, is there a highpoint somewhere within where all of the exterior of the palast can be easily observed? A tower, something of that sort?

Alexis said...

There's no Steward or chief of staff; Eberhardt and Serafina did not bring a staff, and are making due with the ordinary maintenance persons left behind by the true owner of the palast.

Alexis said...

The highest point is a turret in the southwest corner, that would overlook the open land, atop the third floor - about 40' above the ground. The valet at the door can let you into it.

Andrej said...

Eberhardt brought guards, though yes? I seem to remember his men taking charge of the kidnappers body... I assumed these were men-at-arms. Is there a sergeant or leader amongst these?

Alexis said...

Those were the groomsman and two carriage footmen. They've left with Serafina, who took the carriage.

Andrej said...

Excellent. Then we're in charge. :)

I'll post again tomorrow. I've got something at work I need to finish before close of business today and before I go too far I want to give the guys time to add to or refute any of my plans above.

Alexis said...

Let's see, a list for the house who are present:

two cooks; scullery maid; chambermaid; valet; gardener & assistant; stableboy.

Not present:

groomsman; two footmen; two handmaids; scribe.

Andrej said...

Would I be a complete pain in the ass if i asked for a floor plan?

:)

Alexis said...

Gak!

Listen - if I attack the house, I'll provide a floorplan. But consider ... even if someone came in and found only low levels, then killed them all of you or robbed the place, consider the whole weight of the city of Munster coming down on their heads afterwards. This isn't just an ordinary house, even a rich man's house. You'd have to really be sure before you tackled a noble person's house.

You're pretty safe inside the house.

Andrej said...

Fair enough.

Andrej inspects the southwest turret described above, taking in the view and seeing what can and can't bee seen from that vantage. The rest I'll leave for tomorrow, I really must attend to work now. Thanks.

Ahmet said...

Ahmet seeks out his cousin.

Alexis said...

She is in the bedroom, sewing. She is fashioning a yashmak for herself.

Ahmet said...

If the bedroom has a window, Ahmet peers out to scan for any activity. If not, he picks a spot where he can be as comfortable as he can be in his armor, and watches the door.

Alexis said...

There is a window, and it faces the rear of the building, overlooking the northwest garden. You're about 20' over the ground.

Ahmet said...

Ahmet alternates between looking out the window, watching the door, and criticizing his cousin for her veil being too revealing. "What kind of husband do you intend to catch for yourself with such a yashmak?!"

Alexis said...

"In this country, dear brother NO man I hope! But I will not be stared at naked by your 'friends' with their eyes examining me."

Nine-toes said...

(OOC - dang. If I ever get to roll up another character with you, Alexis, I am totally taking one with a higher charisma.)

Andrej said...

(OOC: If you reach 4th or 5th level, Ninetoes, you will be rolling up a character.)

Alexis said...

5th.

Andrej said...

Guys, here are my thoughts. As we've got two days between now and the wedding to remain vigilant and hopefully get some info out of our corpse while keeping Fatima safe, but we need to rest etc... we need system. I know Alexis said an attack on the manor would be unlikely, and I see that, but I'm not anticipating a frontal assault. Something more subtle. I don't want us caught unawares and I don't want to leave the palast only knowing what we know now. The time to be proactive will be once we hopefully find out more from corpse. How many conspirators? Who do they work for? Form where do they work? Who was the noble? Who is the ring leader?

So. If we can manage it with approptiate care and propriety I suggest Ahmet and one of the henchmen continue to keep close watch on Fatima while Ninetoes and the other do so for the body. In each case, both people need not be present at all times. With two we allow for shifts and rest periods etc.

Meanwhile, Emmanuel and Andrej will take turns up in the turret keeping a general eye out.

We do this until the wedding and the questioning of our corpse. At that time, we reasses based on anything that may have happened or new information being revealed. If we find ourselves in the same situation information-wise come Sunday morning, we can discuss becoming more proactive.

Andrej will instruct all of the household staff that should any suspicious persons be spotted, especially the man and woman that we are on the lookout for, one of Ahmet, Ninetoes or Andrej must be immediately notified. Likewise the party is to be immediately notified should word come from the worker's village near to the palast.

Finally, should Eberhard return Andrej will appraise him of the situation.

Andrej said...

or rather, Andrej will apprise him of the situation.

Nine-toes said...

Well said. I concur.

You know, there are times I feel like Arthur Dent playing with you guys. A very fun ride.

Alexis said...

If the others are prepared to accept this, we can move on. I'm going to be gone for a good two hours this morning (starting soon), but having heard from people I'll write the next post.

Otherwise, if there's something to do right now other than the above, let me know, and we'll continue on this post.

Andrej said...

(OOC: So who is Ford Prefect? Alexis must be Zaphod Beeblebrox.)

Nine-toes said...

(OOC - I would say you are Ford, Ahmet is Marvin, and Alexis is the deity who sneezed the entire universe into being.)

Nine-toes said...

(OOC - well, Ahmet is Marvin if Marvin converted to Islam.)

Ahmet said...

(OOC: Never saw myself as a Paranoid Android type, but what the heck... if you guys need me, I'll be sitting in the corner until I rust.)

Ahmet hrms approvingly. So far, no one in this country of infidels has met with his approval. Better she remain covered until they return to civilization.

(OOC: All for moving forward to the wedding!)

Alexis said...

(OOC: I'm surprised at all of you. If you knew the books at all, you'd know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am Slartibartfast)

I'll post anew ASAP. It will take a bit.

Ahmet said...

(OOC: And Ahmet is most certainly the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal!)