The Long-Standing Online Campaign, beginning in Germany, travelling through Italy and Greece to the Sea of Azov.
Friday, August 17, 2012
Crossroads North of Hildesheim
October 12, 1650, Sunday night
Weather: with brisk temperatures and overcast conditions, with a calm air.
It is not long again before you catch up with Ruiz, who is also heading south. You may spare him a few words, you may not; he does not seem especially talkative, and answers cryptically to any questions. One gets the sense that he is landless, and probably drifting south to avoid the winter.
The party continues through mixed forest and cropland, steadily approaching the Salzgitter Hills to the south, with rise 800 feet above the plateau. They extend far to the east, as far as you can see. The crossroads you reach are at the edge of them. All day you've seen fields covered with the dead leaves of beet plants, or the stubble from wheat.
You chance to see a sign that Andrej missed before, probably because it is posted so that travellers from the south might miss it. The sign states that the Holle Saltbaths may be found by taking a minor west road, which departs from the crossroads. The road is in poor shape, without many stones, and would necessitate travelling almost single file between the dense poplar forest.
It gets dark as you reach the crossroads, and the drizzle finally gives up. Again, you eat what Andrej has left, and the party settles in to camp. Another group of men are settled along the road, nearby (perhaps 30 yards). They are travelling north, with plans to reach Luneburg before Friday. They describe themselves as laborers who have been employed in Heilingenstadt, where they have been rebuilding the town cathedral for the past two seasons. They will winter in Luneburg with their families before returning south.
Ahmet, you discretely separate yourself from your camp, well after nightfall, to relieve yourself of some water - taking your sword with you, naturally. I'm afraid you're not armored. You comfortably pass what you must, but as you turn to return to the camp, you hear the definite snuffling of a large beast, no more than 10 feet to your right.
The camp with the others is 50 feet away, and you can hear them chattering pleasantly that the food had better get better - good meat isn't that expensive.