Thursday, September 27, 2012

Innsbruck on an October Morning

October 25, 1650, Friday morning
Weather: with brisk temperatures and cloudy conditions, with calm.

It is a cool Thursday night when the party almost reaches Dachau.  Friday morning, it is brisk, and you are well bundled up as you ride past the Dachau city walls.  Andrej recognizes the burned out gatehouse a mile from the North Gate, and the copses of trees and the overall look of the place.  It seems bustling, unaffected by the events from last spring, with the gates open and a host of citizens driving their flocks of ducks and sheep out to make the most of the dried brown grass and field stubble.  The apple trees have lost their leaves, the aspen nearly so.

There's no sign of anyone familiar, certainly not of Emmanuel ... in his wagon, he would not have reached this far yet.  You don't know by which way he travelled - probably further to the east than did the party.

In the early afternoon of Thursday, you come to the great city of Munich.  The weather, for the first time in this year's memory, does not greatly warm up with the day.  There is a drizzle that starts as you reach Munich, and in the brisk temperature it is positively disheartening.  You round the city, taking note that there seems to be an effort to pile up a great deal of building stone and timber ... there is scads of both, timber in particular, stacked in fifty foot piles and stretching far south from Munich.

From Munich, as the rain clears and the wind shortens to a light breeze, you climb into the Alpenvorland (Alps foothills) towards the village of Tolz, where a hundred buildings are scattered over a valley and the adjacent hill.  From there you follow the Isar River (which you have been following since Munich) into the low Alps, rising a few thousand feet above you.  These are nothing like the Alps Lukas knows, or the Andrej remembers, but still they are rugged enough.  You camp near a dairy farm some ten miles south of Tolz, where the cool afternoon fades into a brisk night.

There's no snow on the ground, though there is a bit in the high country above you.  The heavy snows have not yet begun ... and you do not see any flakes that fall.  When you arise the next morning, and travel over the low pass that leads you into the valley of the Inn - and reach Innsbruck - it is yet brisk, but the clouds are not thick above you.  There's little wind.


You are quite surprised to discover, upon crossing the wooden bridge that spans a hundred feet over the Inn River, that there is a tournament in procession.  There are some twenty knights in plate armor, with pikes, waiting to be told by their Hapsburg lord (the Count of Tyrol) who specifically is to begin ... and a crowd of a thousand waiting to see.  The location for the contest is a flat stone rock extending several feet over the Inn River.

You notice a frame constructed over the rock platform, which is about ten feet wide and 25 ft. long; from the frame hangs a small ring on a chain, in nearly the platform's centre, about five feet above the ground.  The frame consists principally of two tall posts, and below the ring, two feet above the ground, there is a chain strung between them.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Ingolstadt

October 22, 1650, Wednesday evening

Weather: with pleasant temperatures and overcast conditions, with a calm wind

The weather has been unseasonably warm these last four days, from the three days you stayed in Eichstatt to the road to the one day travel to Ingolstadt.  The weather in the morning has been brisk, but pleasant in the afternoons and early evening, so that wearing a jacket is too hot.

There's little on the road as you rise and fall through hills on your way into the Danube valley.  You climb steadily, then descend a few hundred feet into the wide vale of Ingolstadt.  The Danube is like grey slate, the aspens stark white with few yellow leaves left.  There are great piles of leaves, light and sweeping with the wind (when there is any, as there was earlier today, but not as you near the town) across the road, rolling from the right to the left.  Even though the day is spectacular for hunting (Janos puts up a flock of Hungarian partridges, more than 75 of them, which were hidden in grass along the side of the road), there's still that threatening clouded sky suggesting it won't last.

I trust the party got the Ingolstadt market.  It is open ... Ingolstadt is one of the last transshipment points for grain and harvested goods out of Germany before the winter comes.

Unfortunately you learn that there are no barges meant to depart down the Danube.  The last left October 15, a week ago.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Travel Details & Puzzles

Hichem is from the town of Gabes, upon the coast of the Gulf of Gabes off the southern Mediterranean, in the land called Ifriqiya.

He is your servant.  He's 17, 6'1" tall, 200 lbs., born July 19, with faded blue eyes, sooty black hair (thin and a small bald patch), and light brown skin.  His father was a carpenter, he is an orphan, with a strong back (165 lb. weight allowance), has an actual weapon proficiency (hand scythe), but has a natural armor class of "11."   His voice is slightly higher pitched than normal, he walks with a definite limp.

On the other matter:  I hate to press this issue, but given that Naxos IS controlled by Venice, which as pointed out IS an economic powerhouse, what is Venice chiefly known for and in what way is the party likely to  determine who, and how, their taxes are being collected?

UPDATE:

Adding a map of southern Germany and northern Italy:

Monday, September 10, 2012

Eichstatt Again

October 18, 1650, Saturday morning
Weather:  with brisk temperatures and a brief drizzle, with a moderate breeze.

After the incident with the tick, the party experiences no other notable encounters or troubles.  The roads are largely open and empty, with woodcutters occasionally tying up the way but mildly.  You pass through Wurzburg, over the Main, then over the Main River again at Kitzingen.  The first bridge costs double what the second does, so that for both together you pay 1 gold piece and 8 silver per animal or person.  Again, the day is pleasant, which is to say in the 60s, though the sky is overcast and there is a persistent drizzle.  It is still and calm, and much of the rain does not even reach the ground.

You climb into the Frankenwald, which extends south from the Thuringian Forest, passing through the same land Andrej did when the trees were in full leaf.  There you camp before climbing, with no inn in sight.  Andrej is more certain now that Nuremberg is but a day away, depending upon tomorrow's weather.

The forest is less appetizing than it was last June.  The flowers are gone and the grassy ground is brown.  The lakes are no longer blue, but grey and cold.  There are still fast flowing rivers, but now they seem less fairy-like and more threatening as you brace their fords on Friday morning.

The morning begins brisk as always, in the 40s, but the afternoon is pleasant and the late afternoon postively warm, in the 70s.  After reaching Nuremberg round about one in the afternoon, there even threatens a summertime thunderstorm, but it doesn't quite break - though a high wind slows the party down so that they make only 60 miles that day.  Instead of making Eichstatt as expected, they only reach the rich fields between Nuremberg and it.  There you find an inn on the sideroad to Schwabach (to the east) called The Dane's Bench ... the innkeeper has slaughtered a cow and there is nothing but beef stew with potatoes and cabbage on the menu, for 3 s.p.  A night here is the same as before, 6 s.p., and 14 c.p. for each of your horses.

Altogether, there has been an additional cost of 9 s.p. per person for tolls and fees, apart from the bridges at Wurzburg and Kitzengen, and a cost of 4 s.p. per horse.

There is no town wall in Eichstatt, which you reach Saturday morning.  Though it was pleasant when you went to sleep, it is again brisk in the morning when you awake.  Eichstatt has about 300 buildings, and as I described to Andrej once before, it is a university/learning town.  It does not take long for Andrej to locate the place he was before, and to inquire after Egbert, to whom he gave the book.

Egbert is ill.  The party is told where he lodges, and they arrive at a four-story half-timbered house, upon one of Eichstatt's principle streets, standing before a strong wooden door between white-washed stone walls.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Unusual Yellow

October 16, 1650, Thursday morning
Weather: brisk temperatures and overcast conditions, with a strong breeze

The party strikes towards the Nuremberg, winding its way south at first along the Main river.  The following occurs within just an hour of Ascapha:

Just one of those things, the knot on the mage's saddle that holds his second horse - in this case Magnus, as Lukas is riding Tovenar - comes loose.  It's not noticed for awhile ... Magnus just follows along like always, as the party makes their way.

But as Janos stops, because he's realized his horse Erzsebet has picked up a stone, Lukas catches up to him and stops also.  Andrej and Ahmet are somewhere ahead of them; they've gotten into some kind of heated discussion about the Greek islands or some such, and the mage and ranger have been drifting along behind for some peace and quiet.  Particularly, Lukas is probably thinking about scroll creation.

As Janos fixes his horses' foot, the ranger and mage chat - the usual thing, probably: the woodland all around, Lukas being concerned that something might be hidden there, and Janos reassuring him.   Magnus, meanwhile, catches sight of some sweet grass along the side of the road.

A moment later the ranger and mage hear Magnus screaming - and the sound of a horse screaming is a terrifying sound indeed.  They both look - Lukas still on Tovenar, Janos of course on foot - and see that something enormous and yellow - with a shiny body and as big as a pig - has got ahold of Magnus' right shoulder - the body of the horse is obscuring exactly what it is.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Pleasant Afternoon in the Main Valley

October 15, 1650, Wednesday night

Weather:  with cool temperatures and clear conditions, with a light breeze.

Throughout Tuesday night, you keep watches, but you see no more of the wolves, nor any sign the next day.

You wake again in the morning to another storm, a steady hard rain with a strong breeze, disrupting your breakfast.  Throughout the early afternoon, however, despite some threatening clouds, the breeze falls off and grows sweet smelling and clean.  By late afternoon, though it remains overcast, the temperature is actually pleasant ... you remove your coats and ride pleasantly.  As you find yourselves near an inn on the road at the end of the day, the sky is clear, you can see stars, and there's no sign that it's rained that day.  It is cool, yes, but not near as brisk as it has been.

Perhaps it is from being on the south side of the Harz Mountains.

Moreover, as you come down the slopes onto the Hessian plain, passing into lands held by the House of Darmstadt, Andrej becomes more and more convinced that you're bound to pass by Frankfurt today.  The density of the population increases, fields reach to the horizon in every direction, and there are thousands of cattle.  Sure enough, as you enjoy the weather, the spires of Frankfurt appear ten miles away.  You circle the city and its 50,000 buildings, plus the many stockyards, warehouses and fishing docks that extend outwards from the great town.  The party takes a ferry across the Main River, and Andrej leads them off the main road onto a secondary road, to follow the Main up to Ascapha.  You haggle at the border with two guards before ending the Bishopric of Wurzburg, and reach the aforementioned Inn - the White Cup.  Here is where Andrej stayed on a prior occasion, after departing a barge that took him downstream from Wurzburg.

May I presume you rest here again?  Alternately, you can camp on the bank of the Main.

I haven't got a critical file I need to determine Ascapha's market, but I can tell you a private room is 6 s.p., stabling is 5 c.p. and feed for a light warhorse/riding horse is 9 c.p.  Let us presume you eat your own food, hm?



Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Into The Harz

October 14, 1650, Tuesday afternoon
Weather: with cool temperatures and an intermittent drizzle, with a gentle breeze

As the party grumbles that this drizzle is never going to end, it has been miserable these last two days since the death of the pig.  Yesterday, Monday, it drizzled all day.  This morning, the party was awoken by another wet series of small storms, followed by threatening conditions and then more of this accursed drizzle.  It grows clearer why there are few if any on the road, and most of the populace has taken to their homes.

The grey outcroppings of rock throughout the Salzgitter Hills, through which you climb to get to the Harz Mountains south of Hildesheim, turn black with the wet, and the ranger is quite aware that any number might serve as splendid cover for an ambushing brigand.  The birch and alder trees are stripped of many of their leaves by the storms, but there is still enough to occasionally give a sloppy kiss to the mounted party should they happen to need to step off road for a bit of water or to make camp.

The Harz mountains rise 2,000 feet above you as you slip into the Landgravate of Hesse, and the lands belonging to the House of Cassel.  You pass by the town of Cassel Tuesday morning, a big city about half the size of Lubeck - strung along the Fulda river.  Throughout the day you follow the Fulda through a pass in the Harz, just beyond Fritzlar.

During the two days you've paid three silvers each in road tolls.

You rest upon the top of the pass, not that high (perhaps 950 feet above sea level), amid oak trees and silver birch.  A stone run extends from near the road up the west slope, some of the stones being two feet in diameter.  You are struck by the sight of two wolves among the stones; one hidden between the rocks, observed by the Ranger first and pointed out to the other party members - the other moving from rock to rock in an almost energetic dance, as it watches the party from a hundred, hundred and fifty yards away.  The one on the rocks, says Janos, is the male.