Thursday, January 31, 2013

Further Days in Fiume

Jan 14, 1651, Wednesday afternoon
Weather:  with chilly temperatures and an intermittent drizzle, with a light breeze.

Upon the last day in question before the beginning of the journey the next day, Madam informs the party that an expected blizzard and gale is set to arrive in the morning, according to the prediction of weather she has received.  This is expected to blow over by afternoon, so the time of sailing has been extended to two bells after noon, whereupon she is confident they shall be able to safely make their way through the many shoals and isles south of Fiume.

It has been a rather unpleasant stay in the city.  Temperatures have, at best, been brisk, more commonly chilly or frosty ... though not worse than that.  The amount of humidity in the air, being by the sea, has made it all seem much worse, and it is especially hard on those used to continental climates.  It seems that at no time has anyone been warm.

The city is old, and filled with shiny churches and polished citadels, looking much brighter than they might in some mythical future 21st century.  The Shrine of Trsat shouldn't disappoint, as parts of it were added just seven years ago ... moreover, there are not many upon the steps or the top, as this is the off-season for pilgrims.  The 561 stairs, however, are a misery ... they are not of even size, they bend and are crumbled in places, and so it is worse than merely climbing 50 well-designed stairwells.  By the time any of you reach the top, it is late in the day and you're exhausted ... in the cold weather (colder as you climb) it all seems completely awful.  So while the shrine is marvelous, none of you are in a humor to see it by the time you reach it.

Yet you can't help notice that the more penitent seem driven to go up the stairs on their knees ...

Andrej would likely not have the urge to do so.  After all, there's very little likelihood that there's a stair of more than one flight anywhere in Cumana.

The Master-of-Arms is an Austrian named Oscar Deitweiller.  His men (none are women) are all Austrians save one:  the Slavonian sapper, named Belbog.   The footmen are called Moritz, Matthais, Lorenz, Dominik, Kilian, Valentin, Marco, Gabriel, Roland and Konstantin.  The two crossbowmen are Rainer and Manfred.

As regards hay, the horses will need 30 lb. per day for a light or light war horse, 38 lb. per day for a medium horse and 45 lb. per day for a heavy war horse.  Hay is 4 c.p. per pound (I haven't had stables charge for it in the past - I may need to change that, since it is more expensive than I would have guessed at).

I figure the party's whole weight - less hay - is 1,753.25 lbs.  Something else I've never worked out is freight rates ... but if I compare modern freight rates with the cost of staying in an inn for one night in a private room (comparable to a hotel), I get a cost of 25 s.p. per ton per day.  So if the party will work out how much additional hay they need, we can work out those rates - remember that even if the hay disappears, its technically still hold that can't be used for other goods, until such time as you put into port and then the weight can be renegotiated.

Too real for a campaign?  Hah.

Any other questions.  I'm still working on an answer for the Cumana government.

Oh, also, I get 24 persons and 10 horses.  Madam will ask for SEVEN days travel time in advance ... to repeat, that's 8 s.p. per person and 1 g.p. per horse per day.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Arriving in Fiume

Jan 5, 1651, Monday Noon
Weather:  with brisk temperatures and an intermittent rain, with a light breeze

Having caught the French ship the Laurentian, the party experiences two days at sea, crossing the Adriatic east from Venice, in almost continuous drizzle, rain, showers and spattering damp.  The sea is gray and dismal, the crew are tired and unpleasant, the space below deck is dirty, rat and bedbug infested and the odor somewhat less than ideal.  The only decent thing is the food, which you yourselves are providing.

The Fiume dock is a welcome sight.  It has been reached via some tricky maneuvering through some of the more difficult sea the party has seen - very different from the beachy expanses of the Baltic.  Andrej and Ahmet, of course, have some experience with it, along with their hirelings, but this is the first time Lukas, Sofia or Maximilian have ever seen the Mediterranean.  The shores are rocky and forbidding, the sky threatening, and the crew assures you that you dare not take the sea for granted.  It can blow hard on a moment's notice, and now and then sailors lose their lives.

Fiume is a busy port, large and tightly centered in the amphitheatre of hills surrounding it.  It is within the County of Kordun, which Maximillian will take note is under the authority of the Hapsburgs.  Thus, though it is a gold piece to disembark here per person (the horses may do so for free), Maximillian need not pay any coin.

There is a ship, the Alcmaeon, leaving for Egypt, which plans to make a stop in Zante, in the Ionian Isles.  Zante is also under the authority of Venice, and you will be able to catch a ship from there to Candia on Crete ... though it may be a wait.  There are no other shipping routes you can take; the others here are bound for Corinth (and points in the Kingdom of Naples or the Papal States), and you're assured you can't get a ship from Corinth to Candia very easily.  There are no ships for Naxos that do not leave Candia (or so a sailor tells you).

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Your Venice Bankers

Dec 30, 1650, Tuesday morning
Weather: with chilly temperatures and cloudy conditions, with a light breeze

Though the breeze is light, the water in the Lagoon of Venice is too choppy for ice, so despite the winter the water is open, murky and deep.  The barge crossing the lagoon is driven by two dozen oarsmen, yet it is large enough for all of you and your horses.  It makes the seven mile journey in fairly good time.

Though it is only chilly, the humidity upon the water makes the cold perhaps the worst you've experienced since that night when you were drenched just before crossing the Brenner Pass.  Venice is a welcome sight; a spectacular sight.

How can one describe it.  Never has there been such a mountain of pure ornate wealth piled upon piles, artistic and an engineering wonder, like Venice.  The barge lets you off on a pier near St. Mark's Square, with the Cathedral towering over you, forcing you to gaze at it in wonder.  You question someone in the square to find your bankers - the Banque of the Rothschilds - and you are told the way.  You arrange to leave your horses at a ostler's near the docks - this costs you 10 c.p. each, leaving the men-at-arms and Hichem behind, as the place is busy and being near the docks, someone could mistake your horses for cargo.

The party obtains for themselves a gondola, paying the gondalier 2 c.p. to take all four of you a distance of two hundred yards across water - there is no other certain means of getting where you are going, as you do not know the maze of necessary bridges - and you are almost struck by filth being thrown from the windows.  The odor is something magnificent, and quite different from any city you've known - salt mixed with feces and swill - and the surface of the water is a bit thicker than water.

The tower of the Rothschilds is a 130-foot campanile rising far into the sky, with no windows at all below sixty feet over the ground.  You're shown in; you demonstrate the title to your land and you look around at the quite small room that is the main floor.  As the walls of the tower here are 8 feet thick, there is little room for living space; so you begin to climb eight flights of stairs, 11 stairs a flight, until you are high above the city.  You see from one of the narrow windows - the walls being much thinner now - the rooftops of Venice stretching away in every direction, 2,000 massive stone squares, each four floors high as as big as gatehouses.

A banker meets you.  He looks over your paper, he examines his records (which must be fetched) and determines that your back rent amounts to 19 months, from 157 residents of the island of Greater Koufonisia.  He offers you a page to sign, if you want to obtain the coin: 2,296 silver pieces.  And he assures you that the bank is more than happy to continue gathering the rent for you, for the future, allowing for your agent to collect it at your will.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Chioggia by the Sea





Dec 29, 1650, Monday evening
Weather: with cool temperatures and sunny conditions, with a strong breeze

The party runs into a bit of luck and finds their way unimpeded all the way to the sea.

The first day, December 26, Bozen is struck by a steady blizzard, with icy temperatures, that makes travel impossible ... but thankfully, the high wind blows the blizzard through and by early afternoon the sky clears, the weather calms and the party is able to take the road south as far as Trient.  The valley widens and widens along the course of the Adige River (which you follow from Bozen).  This is the High Plain, thin earth mixed with gravel, not very fertile, but there are goats and sheep in abundance.  The slopes have been denuded of trees, and are bare and cold looking.  The weather is frosty by mid-day and you're all quite cold by the time you reach Trient, another metropolis as large as Bozen.

The second day opens with some light snow, still icy temperatures, but these steadily climb above the freezing point during the day to where it is merely chilly by the time you reach Verona.  The road has slowed you up some, as it is icy itself and you're reduced to walking your horses most of the day.  Lukas's magical mount could manage it just fine, but he would leave you behind in the dust.  As you approach Verona, you find yourselves upon the Lower Plain, where it is profoundly fertile.  The empty posts for wine grapes spread as far as you can see, and there are many little houses.  The farms appear to be as small as 10 acres on the average.  By nightfall, you're glad to be inside, as an intermittent drizzle settles down to make the roads covered with ice again.

Verona is immense, with more than 10,000 buildings, three times the size of Trient, and sprawling - it seems - to the horizon.  It is hard to imagine that a city could be so big, especially since you've just passed through two other cities nearby that seemed large enough to occupy all the land you've seen.  You begin to get a sense of just how fertile is northern Italy.

Despte expectations, as you awake on the third day, you find the sky is clear, the temperature has risen above the freezing point (it is chilly), and the wind is calm.  You make good time upon a road wide enough for 16 horses to walk abreast.  The weather is brisk and your spirits are high as you travel.

You meet many people through the day, hauling hay, building stone, cartloads of gravel, driving beasts of every description and so on.  Most are friendly, in a manner that makes some of you nervous, but they seem to mean no harm.  Germany is nothing like this tremendously flat land, with its plaster buildings, its lush grass (three feet tall in large patches and brown with the season) and its people dressed in loose fitting shirts wrapped around the waist.  Most are not even carrying weapons, and even those you see on horseback wear no armor.  You pass through Vicenza - at 1,500 buildings a comparably small town - and continue to Padua.  This again is as large as Verona was ... you cannot help be astounded by all the people.

Maximillian remarks on the existence of the Orto Botanico of Padua, founded in 1545, and that it must be something amazing.  He would like to be shown in to it, but he doubts the likelihood of that, and at any rate the rest of the party would likely shut him down.  After all, at least until you reach Fiume, the party is on a schedule.

It is frosty in the morning as you leave Padua on the 29th.  By late afternoon the weather is positively cool ... and all day you can clearly smell the sea.  By evening you reach the island of Chioggia, and the small city thereupon.  There are more docks and warehouses than buildings of residence, and evidence of huge hydraulic projects that have been initiated upon the Lagoon of Venice here.  The city of Venice is to the north, but it is past the horizon, about seven miles away.

Throughout your travels you have crossed 2 major borders (into the Prince-Bishopric of Trient and into the Republic of Venice) and four minor tolls, into the territories Verona, Vicenza, Padua, Venice (that controls some of the mainland) and Chioggia.  The total fees would be 11 s.p. per horse and 40 s.p. per person.

To enter the city of Chioggia, where you will need to be in order to obtain a barge to Venice, will cost you 1 g.p. per horse or person.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Bozen, Christmas Eve

Dec 24, 1650, Wednesday night
Weather: with chilly temperatures and steady flakes, and a moderate breeze

The temperature has improved considerably as you have descended further still in to the city of Bozen. The city is enormous, with thousands of buildings literally filling the valley as it spreads out from the circle of mountains to the north. It is an intense, highly cosmopolitan city, comparable in size to most everywhere the party has been - except that Andrej has seen Frankfurt, and that is truly gigantic.

Nowhere in Italy is Christmas celebrated on a greater scale than in Bolzano. The German population has lit candles everywhere, so that an unfathomed glow has wrapped the city in it bosom, making it almost as if it where day. The glow is visible for miles off, but this does not truly impress until the city itself is viewed.

Maximilian points out the rich houses upon the distant slopes to the right, reaching into the hill known as Rentsch. The poor live in the lowlands stretching out to the left, an area known as Fago, and above it the health resort taking advantage of natural springs, called the Gries.

Inside the town there is a fair ongoing - and I'm afraid I failed to send a list of goods last night, so take it for granted you can shop to your heart's content on Christmas day (the town is NOT closed).

The Inn, which as I say Maximillian can lead you to, has all your goods, and has been instructed to give you space in the common room - which will cost you 10 c.p. each, per night. There's no private lodging anywhere in the city, probably not until the night after Christmas.

There's plenty of lager at 12 c.p. a glass, roast beef at 16 s.p. for 20 oz., loaves of bread for 3 c.p. and whole chickens for 6 s.p. There are even single oysters for 11 s.p. Fresh trout will cost 2 g.p. and a fresh mackeral, 3 g.p.

The stable will continue to watch your horses until the morning of the 26th for no charge, but Enrico's warhorse will be 27 c.p. a night for feeding and stabling.

UPDATE:

Andrej's reading ability thus far:


Lower Valley of the Po:


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Lora

Dec 24, 1650, Wednesday evening to night
Weather:  with frosty temperatures and steady flakes, and a moderate breeze

The party is hoisted to the bottom of the fall, with the equipment they have; and there they meet a young woman, perhaps 22 years of age, who gives her name as Lora.  She is dressed in a diaphanous gown, quite thin, a withered, brown vine wrapped around her very long auburn hair, holding it in place, and a lanyard of silver that wraps around her 20-inch waist and hangs to her knees.  She is bare footed.

She smiles, directs the way without a word, and leads you in another direction from the defile where you first climbed to get here ... about twenty yards to a cliff face.  There she begins to cast a spell.

You cannot help but note that her feet leave no tracks in the snow. I find I must point out that for Andrej, Christmas is a holy day. It is now perhaps six. Out of the mountains, it is perhaps still evening, but in the high country, below the meadow, it is nearly dark now.  The wind is biting, making it closer to icy than frosty ... and you are all somewhat uncomfortable as you watch this girl cast.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Christmas Eve in Discomfort

December 24, 1650, Wednesday afternoon
Weather: frosty all day; with a light breeze and intermittent flakes

Surprisingly, it hasn't gotten any colder ... except that it no longer becomes warmer during the daylight hours.  Over the last twenty days, there has been only one without any precipitation ... but there is still the occasional drizzle, one day in 3, in the afternoon.   It is not enough to melt the snow, and its presence is just numbing in the extreme.  But making a check for the entire party, and still exempting the possibility of damage for travel (which I took up working on again this last weekend, but you're still free from that nightmare), the party remains entirely healthy.

There's been no movement at all from the ground since the arrival of the goods twenty days ago.  Lazaro has re-emerged from his hut, but he continues to be in a sour mood.  The party spends most of their days trying to keep warm, but the reading lesson continues as best it can.

Christmas is approaching, and on the Eve, a single man approaches the bottom of the waterfall and the guard responsible rings a bell, summoning the camp.

A basket is sent down.  It comes up again, virtually empty, except that it contains a small letter.  It is looked at by Lazaro, who hands it to Andrej to read ... who opens it (presumably) as it is addressed to him.  After  a brief glance, in which he can read some of the letter, he passes it along to Lukas or Maximillian, who can read it out loud.

"To His Archdeacon Father Andrej of Cumana ... we have received your request for 2,000 pieces of gold to ransom you and your companions from the Epirot Bandit Hadji Lazaro of Tyrol, examining the matter closely and addressing the circumstances within and withal the matters pertaining to, and we have resolved upon the method of disseminating a security which will, in substance, provide for you the means of eschewal that the church rightly sees as the only possible result in this circumstance.  Please act in whatever means you see appropriate,

May God Be With You,

Father Ranko Stipanov, Prefect of the Fourth District of Fiume,
Director of the Croat Bank of Fiume
Writing on behalf of the Cardinal of Fiume, his holiness Zrinko Ivanec the VI


"What is the answer?" asks Lazaro.

Continued Captivity

December 4, 1650, Tuesday
Weather: with a frosty morning and chilly throughout the day; with a moderate breeze at dawn, light airs throughout the day.

Little has changed as another 16 days pass.  Snow falls all but five days, and the occasional day where there is a cold drizzle is far, far worse than the snow.  The temperature is chilly at best almost every day, and never better than brisk ... and every single night is frosty.

No ransom has arrived, but a large store of provisions has come today, the 4th.  The snow has deepened to about 10 inches throughout, and a great deal more above you ... and you might be thinking that the defile was not the only path up to the waterfall (though you don't know where another might be.  About 8 tons of goods, mostly flour, dried meat, potatoes and other staples are hoisted up from the bottom of the waterfall, along with clothing, chickens, goats and some timber for emergency shoring should it be needed.

Lazaro has been in a foul mood since the day before yesterday.  He has heard from his troop at the seige and more than half of them have been killed.  Lazaro was violently incensed by this, screaming at the messanger, destroying the interior of his house and throwing his woman Flora out - she is waiting in another hut while he broods alone.  He is unapproachable, and the other men warn the party to stay away - at a time like this, he could raise your ransom or any other hasty act, which he would surely regret afterwards ... but his pride would force him to keep his word.

No new information is available, except that the weather is making the wait increasingly harder and less pleasant.  The stream has frozen, with perhaps an inch of ice which wouldn't be yet  very reliable to walk on.  This is a taking stock moment, for the party to consider if there's anything they might do.

You've been in captivity 34 days.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

First 18 Days in the Mountains

November 18, 1650, Tuesday
Weather: with a frosty morning, chilly mid-day and cool in the late afternoon, with calm weather, at most a light breeze, and an intermittent drizzle briefly before evening

Two and a half weeks have passed without any news, and the party has begun to settle themselves in Hadji Lazaro's camp.  There have been three steady snowfalls, and occasional brief flurries, all in the morning or mid-day.  By afternoon, it is usually chilly or brisk, and yielding a little drizzle as it is a bit too warm for snow.  Some days there's a wild wind, but in the sheltered meadow, it is usually something seen in the clouds, whipping overhead, rather than felt.

There has been surprisingly much to do.  The party have gotten to know their guards well - though I'll skip over naming them all, until asked to do so (I'd rather not).  A careful count identifies 94 men, women and children in the settlement, with 41 men, 38 women and 15 children - these last range in age between seven months old and six years.  No child over six years is in the village, which Lazaro explains is because each season, once a boy or girl reaches that age, they are placed with family or in an artisan's shop to learn a decent trade.

Abantes, Lazaro's son, expresses an interest in Ahmet's swordsmanship, and offers to give Ahmet pointers on how to better use a scimitar.  This could explain why Ahmet's THACO improves one point from what it was before, from 17 to 16 ... for I would assume even Ahmet is wise enough to know when someone pleasantly offers to spar with him for his own good.  Lukas even sits in now and then, finding that his THACO has also improved by a point, from 21 to 20.  Abantes proves to be a decent fellow, and tells Ahmet of how he and his father are from Epirus, in northern Greece, and that they are neither one of them Italian.  This, says Abantes, is the reason why his father takes a title usually associated with chieftains in Macedonia and Thrace, rather than an Italian title.

Sofia rambles over the whole area, keeping a sharp eye out for anything that catches her eye.  She sees some places where the rocks on the cliff walls are designed to come loose, should anyone attempt to climb out.  She judges the water fall, and assures herself that yes, the cliff is almost certain death for anyone to climb down while the water is running.  She takes her best chances to identify the location of the mechanism that allows the gate above the waterfall to move, cutting off the water--where she learns it runs into 'swallow hole' a foot wide, too deep to reckon.  She finds no sign of mines, underground passages, concealed holes or anything to suggest a dungeon beneath the meadow.  She watches the others fish the stream and takes a hand at it, throughly enjoying herself.

Lukas learns there's a library ... some two hundred books altogether, kept in the best house of the settlement, Lazaro's.  There are books on Italian history, civil engineering and design, painting, aesthetics--and much to Andrej's surprise, when Lukas tells him--five books upon pastoral work.  There's more than enough material for Andrej to practise with, and Lukas can at least teach him his ABC's, as well as getting him to sound out his vowels and consonents.  Andrej seems to have a bit of a flair for it.

Maximillian does get to know the party fairly well, but he and Mareo still keep mostly to themselves.  For Maximillian, this is an opportunity to at least reasonably investigate the high country of the Tyrolese Alps in November.  He may have ventured up here for a day or two, but this is far longer than he's ever been, and he's had quite a number of unexpected sightings of birds, small animals and the like.  I believe that he has speak with animals as a spell, though I may be wrong.  He hasn't had a chance to use the spell if he has, but he has continually looked for such an opportunity.

Hadji Lazaro has brought up many of the party's things, including Lukas' spellbook (which Lazaro is keeping under lock and key, but wishes Lukas to know it is safe), Andrej's requested Bible, the party's weapons, all their equipment and so on.  This is guarded by a goodly sum of the guards, in a heavy wooden hut with a door so small one must get on one's hands and knees to go through it.  In particular, Lazaro adores the complicated barrel, and spends an afternoon experimenting and playing with it.  He offers to trade his mace - which he calls Aksion Spacimo - for it.

There are other surprises ... Hadji Lazaro spends more than half his day, every day, hearing accounts, having letters read aloud to him, dictating letters and apparently managing assets in Switzerland, Dalmatia, Greece, Florence and Modena, and of course in Bozen.  Maximillian overhears that the bandit chief gave - without expecting compensation - 3,500 gold pieces to the Baron of Klausen, a castle along the road between Brixen and Bozen, which the party passed on their way, for the repairing of the road there.  "Fewer people have travelled along it, giving us fewer people to rob," says Lazaro in a letter. 

Lukas heard that Lazaro donated 40 of his men to the Duke of Urbino, to help break the Spanish siege on the city, that had been going on for two months.  Sofia overhears that he had donated a small galley, "until the next summer months," to the Govenor of Rovigo, to help better patrol the lower marshes of the Po, where it had been reported that sahuagin from the Adriatic were raiding.

On the 18th two significant events happen.

The first, Maximillian is in the small woods, amid the stand of poplars, examining the bark of trees to learn what he may, when he notices that the guard has wrapped himself heavily in his cloak, and has fallen asleep while leaning between two close-growing trees, enabling Maximillian to throw a spell.  There is a chipmunk on a log, about ten feet away, watching the druid observing the guard.

Near to the same time, Sofia finds the mechanism, at last, and has a few seconds to examine how it works.  She rolls under her find/remove traps, and sees in a moment how it is moved so the stream can be diverted.

A Brief Stock-taking

I just want to work out a few character details, if we could.

Ahmet, I don't know if you got my email last night, but what I said was that you shouldn't feel it's necessary to run a fighter as your hench just because the party NEEDS a fighter.  Any character is of benefit, even another druid (which could create some interesting characterizations and 'intellectual' discussions between Ahmet's hench and Maximillian).  Obviously, Ahmet's druid hench wouldn't convert to Christianity, but player druids are also allowed to be very tolerant of the 'new' religions and the need to follow them.

While we're on the subject, I'm not sure if I am clear on WHAT your religious position is, Maximillian.  I tend to expect some sort of adherence to general Celtism, Greek mythology, animism or other form of mysticism.  Sumerianism, Zoroastrianism, Norse Celtic, Russian pagan, etc., are other possible choices, as well as any particular pagan perspective you'd like to try.  Something is normally de rigueur.  You may have told me, but I've missed it.

Is there anything else that needs discussion?  How long, for example, now that Andrej has written his letters, shall I jump forward.  Can it be left up to me?  I know something is expected for Halloween night, but unfortunately most of what we perceive about the night before, vis-a-vis paganism, was made up in the 19th century.  At most, Maximillian would spend the evening in silent meditation.  I might have something greater conjure itself, but that's an unlikely event for a 1st level druid.

UPDATE:

Ahmet's Henchman:


And two men at arms:


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Lazaro's Hospitality

October 31, 1650, Friday afternoon

As the party reaches the top of the waterfall, they find themselves in the cleft between two cliffs, facing a remarkable vale, where the stream forms an intimate meadow two hundred yards long and seventy yards wide.  A cascade falls from the mountain, emerging from the sheer wall at the meadow's end.  High above you, a crystal glacier sits atop a cirque, cresting the top of the peak, four thousand feet up.

The stream is deep, five or six feet, but the flow is negligible ... and it has been temporarily dammed to stop the water dropping over the waterfall the party has just climbed up.  Grey-brown grass reaches from either side of the stream up toward sheer sides of rock, hundreds of feet high, embrace the meadow.  Spotted here and there are patches of open, leafless aspen, and there are stakes covering an acre and a half where grapes would be growing in the summertime.  Snow has piled high in places and covers much of the outer meadow.

Between the snow, there are a dozen little houses, in part carved into the sloping edges of the meadow; there are children playing, women working, men repairing the houses, line fishing in the stream and 'guarding' - there are four men posted up high in the rocks with bows, particularly watching the party as they climb up.

There are also two other men, whom the party is introduced to as Maximillian and Mareo.  They are residents of the town of Bozen, for which the party was bound - unarmored, but clearly men of means.  Both are enormous; 6'1", more than 220 lbs.  Maximillian seems wise and aware, and quite likeable at once.  Mareo is clearly protective of the other.

Lazaro tells you you're free to travel where you will.  The river is freed, and you see that there seems to be some mechanism that closes it off.  He tells you that the food is good, the lodgings are fair, and as soon as you find someone to pay your ransom, you'll be freed and all your possessions and horses will be returned to you.

Maximillian and Mareo are waiting for 400 g.p. to be paid by his Maximillian's father's father.  Lazaro tells the party that he's set their ransom at 2,000 g.p. ... and that writing materials will be made available for them to write to whomever they know who can pay it.  Lazaro will give 90 days for the money to arrive, and after that he is sorry, he will have to kill you.

Maximillian did nothing to be here - but Lazaro has a friend, who has a quarrel with Maximillian's grandfather ... and thus the grandson was seized in Bozen and has been held here 22 days.

Lazaro will assign two guards to each of the party, with instructions to beat any of you who attempts to cast a spell.  Maximillian can confirm that these men stay quite conscious and are nearly impossible to get around.

There's more, no doubt, but at this point it will be easier to answer questions.

The Defile Upwards

October 31, 1650, Friday afternoon
Weather:  with cool temperatures and overcast conditions, with a fresh breeze

As the weather warms to where it is at least tolerable, the party finds themselves marching up a very narrow defile, no more than three or four feet wide, on steps cut into the stone that seem to have been here for centuries, perhaps millennia.  Worn smooth by boots, the angle of ascent is nevertheless 45, sometimes 55 degrees upwards.  In most places, the rock is so close and high over the character's heads that it seems to threaten them, as though it would press together suddenly and kill all.  The rock sometimes bends over above, hiding the sky; it is glittery white in color, carved over untold years by water and wind.

After the first three hundred feet, the steps meet with a small stream, a couple of feet wide but quite deep, which has formed the crevice through which the party climbs.  The steps swing from the left to the right of it, so that now and then the party has their feet wet.  Lazaro and his son, #2, whose name is Abantes, both follow the party.  #5, the bowman, whose name is Januz, leads the way.  He is an Albanian, evidenced from his accent, which Ahmet recognizes.

In time, after a thousand feet (and two rests along the way, in small bowls upon the mountainside offering no view at all), the party comes to the foot of a waterfall.  The lip is about 75 feet above you.  There is not much water that falls, but it splatters over the rock face and makes it dangerously wet and slippery.  A set of stairs are carved into the rock, hitching back and forth straight up the waterfall ... but climbing them would be insane while the water is falling, even for a thief.

Hadji Lazaro shouts, and a man's head appears above you.  He's too high up to hear, and the water would make it impossible anyway ... but after a couple of minutes, the waterfall suddenly stops.

"Very well," says Lazaro.  "We go up.  Beware the steps; they slope outwards.  Rub your feet upon them to dry them as you climb, and you will be all right."

Lukas has said he will do whatever is asked of him ... but I felt I better stop and have the party give their opinion at this point.