Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Way to Soest

Sunday, September 7, 1650
Weather:  Brisk temperatures and an intermittent storm, with a high wind

You cannot help but wonder if you should be travelling upon this, or any road today.  The weather is slightly warmer than chilly ('brisk' would be in the 40s), but after last night's steady storm, the drizzle that lasted until morning, the storm that is just relenting as the party in Arnsberg gets themselves packed - the sky still threatening above - the road is unimaginably sloppy and unpleasant.  The road bound for Hamme is no better, which the party can see as both roads fork from west of town.  The blustering wind blows from the North-Northeast, directly against the party.

Worse (and this is presuming the party goes ahead anyway, tramping along with their horses rather than daring to ride and breaking a horse's leg), after the morning has passed with one last brief storm that breaks the wind at last (it settles to a still, light air), the party passes three staggered wagonfulls of dead men bound south for Arnsberg, some ten minutes apart, driven by sullen, unhappy drivers.  The third wagon passes, making nearly sixty dead bodies in all.


71 comments:

Lukas said...

Lukas, not being as callous as his companions about passing travelers (I kid) cannot help but ask as to the source of wagons of corpses.

Alexis said...

You're told by the third wagoneer that a mine collapsed yesterday morning. They've been digging bodies out of it all night. There's a guess more than two hundred have died.

Lukas said...

Lukas shakes his head, "Shame that, god take their souls, and bless their families they left behind." Then rides onwards. He eventually chats a bit more with Ahmet about mines, after all the topic did come up.

Alexis said...

Since you are both miners, I can confirm that the bodies do look as though they have been killed in the way described; asphixiation and crushed bones, and dirty and caked, not with the mud of the road, as first thought, but from the pits.

Further along the road, you will come to a course of women and children, being prevented from making their way south by a cadre of soldiers. These do not disturb the party as they pass, but the women are wailing, demanding to know why they cannot go to Arnsberg.

Ahmet said...

If we can rewind just a moment...

Ahmet's ears perk up when he hears it is a mining catastrophe. He asks the wagoneer what type of mining the men were doing, if there are more men trapped in the mine, and where the mine is located.

Alexis said...

The mine is yet ahead. It was an iron mine; it is off-road to the right, about four miles further on. According to the guards, the mine has been opened completely now, but the dead are still be moved to Arnsberg for burial.

Ahmet said...

During the lull between the wagoneers and the arrival of the women, as part of the discussion of mining with Lukas, Ahmet asks: "Do you think this is worth a trip to investigate? We were told to look for caves. Does a cave-in qualify?"

Upon the arrival of the women and children, Ahmet calls to them, asking if they are the widows of the men killed in the iron mine collapse.

Lukas said...

Lukas shakes his head, "I think the caves we are to explore are to find the secret entrance. The one we have already located. If anything, to stray now seems to be the worst idea. We would not want to be late for whatever our employer's plans are."

Ahmet said...

Ahmet grunts and trudges on, giving Lukas his wildly speculative thoughts on why this mine collapsed, recollections of various mining disasters and near-disasters he narrowly escaped, and a general primer on mid-17th century mining tragedies in Central Anatolia.

It must be something of a relief when the horde of women and children show up to distract Ahmet. He asks them if they are the widows of the men killed in the mining collapse.

Alexis said...

Yes, they are the widows of the men killed.

Lukas said...

Assuming Ahmet does not wish to pursue mine information further, Lukas presses onwards. Perhaps after our current task investigation may be warranted.

Ahmet said...

Ahmet asks the women for more details, if they know any, and asks the soldiers why the women can't accompany their dead to Arnsberg. That seems a little odd, no?

Alexis said...

"Aye, sir," says the guard Ahmet asks. It's clear there's some sign among Ahmet that has started to gain some respect from those guards who meet him. "It's orders, that's all I know."

Lukas said...

"Whose orders?" Lukas requests curiously.

Ahmet said...

"Ach, you men are in a bad spot -- no soldier wants to be surrounded by wailing women and children! A strange order indeed. Who gave it?"

Alexis said...

"My Captain's orders, sir. Hey you - don't let them move past you!" He quickly gives orders for men to move into the trees, to stop some of the women trying to go around the road; at that point he's too busy to talk.

Ahmet said...

Ahmet seeks out the Captain.

Alexis said...

The Captain isn't here. He's in Arnsberg.

Ahmet said...

Ahmet asks the women, "When did this collapse happen?"

Ahmet said...

Ahmet remembers the wagoneer told them yesterday morning, but he's curious to see if the womenfolk say different. He also asks them for any details about the collapse, essentially confirming what the others have already told him.

If all the stories match up, he eventually gives up and trudges on with Lukas.

Alexis said...

The stories do match up. The mine collapsed; the cause is uncertain. There are a great many dead and the women have been told their husbands will be buried in Arnsberg, in a graveyard that is being laid out for the purpose.

(OOC: Sorry I haven't been quick in responding; I am tired of this combat/movement post being half done and I'm trying to wrap it up)

Wickedmurph said...

(OOC: is the bishop a cleric? Like a high-level one? Like one with access to animate dead spells?)

Lukas said...

I think so. In other words, intercepting those corpses might be a good idea. Morbid and sacrilegious but a good idea.

Lukas said...

"Wait, Ahmet, he could create ghouls from corpses! We have to go back and ensure this does not happen! Your friends be damned we could prevent what, sixty men from being put against us!"

Alexis said...

I may be lapse in my descriptions. I should tell you at the moment that there are a dozen soldiers here, and that there were two men aboard each of the wagons that passed.

Lukas said...

Step 1: I would like to inquire as to why the bodies are being shipped to their current destination (And what their final destination is).

Step 2: If it is in fact as we fear, then I would like to explain that the bishop is supposedly not there, and as such either the corpses will rot without treatment, or that something more nefarious/sacrilegious may be afoot, bringing up the fact that prohibiting families to see their own dead and taking the bodies to a place the bishop is not is highly suspicious logically.

Lukas said...

It is at this point having a high level communication spell would be useful. Why go through 12 guards when you can have your allies hit the passing wagons.

Alexis said...

Step 1: Nobody here knows.

Step 2: None of the guards has time to listen; they're not confrontational, they're simply disbelieving. "This was a natural disaster!" they'll say. "How can you suggest such a thing?"

Lukas said...

Quietly to Ahmet, "What do you think the chances are we can break through and intercept the wagons?" Lukas tries to figure it out himself. He also looks for soldiers with ranged weapons.

Melchior said...

(OOC: Just a general question here - what level of input from non-present party members do you feel is appropriate, Alexis?)

Ahmet said...

Ahmet, thinking back to how much trouble they had with the two ghouls, grimaces when he sees how many corpses are on the wagons. He absently rubs his right forearm as he recalls the creature's icy touch.

"The guards seem to be occupied with the women and children," he mutters quietly to Lukas and Nine-toes. "Leave them be, here. We ride back to the wagons, where there were only six men, yes?" He pauses. "Then we... slay the six wagoneers, burn the corpses of the miners, and ride back to Soest?"

Lukas said...

"This would be a terrible thing to do were they innocent, perhaps we should 'escort' them and should they appear suspicious stop the first one? The others would be slowed by going around and give us time to delay them as well."

Ahmet said...

Ahmet shrugs. Terrible? Eh.

"But what if the wagoneers, like these soldiers, are merely following orders, and have no idea that they are doing anything other than, as instructed, bringing the dead for burial?"

Lukas said...

"We ensure they are directed to somewhere else and NOT the bishop."

Ahmet said...

"And if they won't go? These soldiers seem well-drilled and disciplined. I am assuming the wagoneers are just as good at following orders. The men seemed quite unhappy, but serious in their duty nevertheless."

Lukas said...

"Well then we might have to eliminate them or demoralize them until they do change direction... with or without the wagon. The bishop would desecrate 60 bodies, who knows what happens to their souls?"

Alexis said...

(OOC: Melchior, I'd rather you didn't do any. Let 'em tough it out)

Ahmet said...

Ahmet grunts and withholds his feelings on the souls of infidels, desecrated or not.

"Very well. We must hurry to overtake the wagons."

Has the weather improved to the point that we can ride the horses, or would walking still be our best course of action?

"But perhaps before we go, we should speak to these women, and ensure these soldiers are kept busy. Perhaps not telling them about the bishop raising the corpses from the dead, but at least trying to quietly convince them they ought to press on to Arnsberg."

Alexis said...

Fellas,

If your theory is true, consider this; if you had need for the bodies as you describe, and you were going to pick underlings to carry the bodies back to town, what sort of underlings would you pick?

Alexis said...

The weather is unchanged.

The women in particular would be in no way interested in "keeping the soldiers busy." Some of what I've said above has come from the women ... and they more than anyone would be affronted and appalled at your suggestion, probably asking the soldiers to quiet you.

Lukas said...

The kind we'll be facing later with 120 more hands?

Ahmet said...

(OOC: I didn't mean that in a sexual way! I meant, "Are you really going to wait here in the rain while your men are buried in Arnsberg?")

Alexis said...

(OOC: I missed the innuendo, actually. Too bad! I meant, they'd be appalled at the suggestion that their men were being hauled off to town in order to be made into undead.

Would you believe it?)

Alexis said...

Perhaps, Lukas.

Alexis said...

(OOC: It's kind of sticky, ain't it?

Okay, let's say you go back, and you tackle the first wagon. And they're not so tough you can't kill them. They won't be easy, but let's give you the benefit of the doubt.

What do you do with the bodies? Bury them? And what do you do when the next wagon comes along. After all, I said 200 dead. One assumes there will be at least another wagon. But no worries, you'll be running after the second wagon, and hopefully not dying when you handle those two guys ... in order to go after the first wagon, and survive the third battle.

Then you'll have sixty-six bodies in wagons, strung along the road. What then? Even if you bury them, it won't hurt their chance to be made into undead.

Can you see me grinning?)

Ahmet said...

Well... as I said, "Perhaps not telling them about the bishop raising the corpses from the dead."

In game terms, I think Lukas should attempt to REASON with the women, saying it doesn't make any sense that they be barred from the funerals of their own husbands, and that they ought to argue with these soldiers and demand that they be allowed to pass. I just want the women to give up and go home, allowing the 12 soldiers to turn around and happen upon us as we're trying to deal with the wagoneers.

Ahmet said...

er, I meant, I just DON'T want the women to give up and go home. I want them to stay here and pester the soldiers as long as possible, so the soldiers can't pester us.

But it does sound like this isn't going to work. Lukas, what do you think?

Lukas said...

Well what about hit and runs? If we 'can't' take the men, let's not, let's take the horses, and the wagon wheels, impede the wagons to a stop, then sabotage the road, never fight the 'tough soldiers'. We can put these soldier's in a sorrier state possibly by inciting the women, but the delay may be costly.

Lukas said...

If the men abandon the wagons long enough, maybe we can even burn them.

Ahmet said...

Remember, though, we're going to have a hard time catching Wagon #3, let alone #2 and #1. The roads are so bad that we've been walking our horses, not riding them.

Lukas said...

Or we can just continue on, and not be able to warn our employer until we're already there. *shrug*

Ahmet said...

Well, let's be sure...

Alexis, if we turned around and walked after the wagons, how long would it take us to catch them? Are they still within sight, or are they miles down the road now?

If we rode our horses after the wagons, what are the odds of a horse breaking a leg -- 1 in 100, or 1 in 6?

Alexis said...

You won't have to reason with the women. They ARE arguing with the soldiers that they should be allowed to go with their husbands. However, the soldiers are NOT banning them from the funeral. The funeral will be held in a week's time, while the bodies are being washed and readied. In the meantime, the women must return home and NOT challenge the authorities word in this.

The women are going to lose, as the soldiers are starting to get more abusive with the hilts of their weapons.

Alexis said...

Interesting. Do you know what happens when you burn a body without giving it last rites, or otherwise religiously performing the burial ceremony?

Alexis said...

Yes, all I said was "further along the road."

Let's call it two miles. Given that you can't ride your horses without possibly breaking a leg, if you rush you can move about 125% faster than the wagons.

This is like one of those math problems in high school.

Lukas said...

Misadventure?

Alexis said...

I think we'd have to say 1 in 6 of a horse doing something that resulted in the horse being temporarily lame, which would mean the horse couldn't be ridden, but would be okay in a few days. Then, 1 in 6 that the lameness would be a torn tendon, which would need a real healing spell. Then, 1 in 6 after that of the horse breaking a leg. So 1 in 216 for the worst case scenario.

Alexis said...

Do you remember my posts on Undead, Lukas? I've relabeled them so you can find them on the subjects list on the main blog. "Undead Beginnings" I, II, III, IV.

Lukas said...

Well for the last wagon its just how long it takes for us to clear 2 miles with just that 25% bonus alone. Assuming the wagons move at 2mph, that would mean we would need 4 hours to meet the last one. Faster for less time, slower for more.

Ahmet said...

(OOC: What if at the same moment a train leaves Chicago...)

Perhaps we'd be better off if Lukas PERSUADE'd the women to go home before the soldiers start butchering them.

Or we can just keep trudging on to Soest.

Either way, I think the corpses are, no pun intended, a dead issue.

Lukas said...

Let the guards deal with the fallout of 'just following orders' I have no goodwill for them, and am certain the women will leave rather than take a savage beating. We move onwards, and I try and find the portion of the undead posts on burning. With my luck Alexis got all fancy and used a term like incineration ;)

Lukas said...

I'm afraid I remembered a reference, but could not attribute it to you, so figured it was one of Telecanter's works.

Lukas said...

Lukas looks to Ahmet as the go, "Perhaps next time you should try and get a writ from you employer that will at least make normal soldiers consider about our opinions. You know a writ or something with his name signed on it. Something official looking."

Lukas said...

(OOC: I'd like to note I bear no Ill will to the GM at this time. I understand the guard's position. I dislike lack of ability to do much about something we know about, but that will just make leveling more worthwhile. As I will be able to smoke those dang lackeys quickly.)

Alexis said...

(OOC: I understand, never thought there was any ill will. I'm being somewhat obtuse, but only because you do have little power to influence things.

All I can say for the moment is that I do try to incorporate things relevant to the campaign...)

Andrej said...

(OOC: I thought it was good thinking to assume these corpses would end up being an army used against us. See you guys in Soest.)

Ahmet said...

(OOC: Who is Will and why is he ill?)

Ahmet grinds his jaw and mutters to himself, but seeing there is nothing they can do, trudges on toward Soest.

Alexis said...

Good. I'll start the new post tomorrow morning.

(OOC: Things are happening, guys; after all this hard work I've been putting into this campaign, I'm being given a small raise and increased responsibilities - they must know what a good DM I am, huh?

I'm not certain how this work load is going to change things - for the moment, I'm certainly feeling it. I am finding it hard to maintain this campaign and the blog at the same time - I will be glad when this is one thread again, and I'm not posting twice to keep up with a split party. Be patient with me and we'll see. I am certain to take a week in March off just for my sanity.

I think it can be certain at this point that Silvius is gone forever. I haven't heard from Nine-toes, though I haven't tried to email him; I presume with his at home changes and the situation at work, he just hasn't got the time. A dose of reality, I guess. We all do the best we can.

On top of everything else, I am also editing my wife's book, this massive 105,000 word fictional tome she's written. That is eating up a lot of my off hours. It was the main reason I was unable to work on the combat post this last weekend. She wants to publish it herself around April/May. I think that's doable.

Yes, I am feeling some stress.

Don't rush in and tell me to take as much time as I need. I will do that anyway. Rush in instead and reassure me that you're happy with the game, you don't feel railroaded and that the pace has been fine.

Thanks guys for a chance to vent)

Andrej said...

(OOC: There's no other game I'd rather be playing. The pace is fine, it will speed up and slow down as we are available like always.

While I would have loved to play some today I had almost as much fun reading what the other half of the party was up to. I'm really looking forward to joining back up and getting to the showdown in Arnsberg.

Ahmet said...

(OOC: Yup... having a great time, but eager to get the crew back together!)

Lukas said...

(OOC: It's going well, the game has held my interest, and has me getting up an hour earlier with no regrets, so that's something. I'm looking forwards to what happens next.)