Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Bert

Tuesday afternoon, May 4, 1651
With scattered clouds and warm temperatures, with a gale originating in the southwest.

Overnight, as the weather remains pleasant and comfortable, the wind changes and increases in intensity, from the south, a dry wind that has descended from the atmosphere, having originated in the African desert and skipped over the Mediterranean Sea. The temperature quickly climbs in the morning, until anything more than a light shirt seems stifling.

Still, Sevim sleeps, all morning. Ahmet has gone off alone for a time, but he returns after breakfast, having sojourned through the night with his conscience. And then, not long after his return, the party - resting upon the long green grass under olive and lemon trees, the petals of the latter thinning now as the wind blows them away - sees Hichem returning with a companion. An odd companion.

It is a fellow about 18 inches tall, with black greasy hair, a thick mustache, an open shirt and a short breeches, as well as bare feet. The little fellow has a swordbelt with a narrow blade only eight inches long tucked into it, and a small bow hung over one shoulder. The side of the belt opposite the sword has a small wineskin tied to it. He is speaking animatedly with his hands and Hichem is smiling, chuckling from time to time as they approach, so that it can be seen that the small man is telling some sort of story.

When they get close enough, the party can just hear the small fellow say, "... so I told her, if I had two brothers, the thres of us could make a permanent home in her magnificent mountain pass."

At which Hichem guffaws heartily.

The former servant looks at the party and says, "My masters. I am heartily sorry for my impulsive behavior, and if I may, I'd like to return to your service. And I would like to present Bert." Hichem gestures with his hands. "This is Maximillian, a healer and the warmest fellow of the bunch; and Lukas, he's a very smart man; and this is Andrej, a Catholic Priest; and Ahmet, whom I -"

"Yes, yes, enough said," says Bert. "Troubles come in all shapes and sizes, we can't expect every moment to sing with birdsong. Hello to all of you!"

111 comments:

Lukas said...

Lukas looks between his two companions slightly uncomfortably then moves to greet Bert, "Hello to you too Bert."

Ahmet said...

Ahmet -- unarmored and unarmed at the moment -- quirks an eyebrow in surprise at the little man, but nods his head in greeting before hurrying away. He sits at Sevim's side and waits for her to wake up.

Maximillian Boii said...

I great Hichem "warmly" and then, turn to Bert, give a slight bow, and express pleasure at meeting him, and my wish that he has enjoyed this beautiful morning.

Lukas said...

Oh yeah, I just noticed I had forgotten the part where I get up and go to Hichem for the friendly embrace, a grasp of the shoulders and a "I'm glad you're back."

Andrej said...

Andrej bows, "It seems that we are indebted to you Bert if you have somehow worked to bring Hichem back into our service. To what do we owe the honor of your visit?"

Alexis Smolensk said...

"A beautiful morning if you're a kite," Bert says to Maximillian. "On a windy day, I have to be sure I stoop a little, lest I get carried away. Closer to the ground is closer to onions, too."

To Lukas, Bert says, "Hello to us two? He's Hichem, I am but one Bert ... but hello to you two Lukas, in case that's your way."

Alexis Smolensk said...

To Andrej, he says, "Owe? My, it's been years since I was a banker. Let's say a week's interest, that being seven days of your attention." He spits in his hand and holds it outreached. "Deal?"

Lukas said...

Lukas will reply, "One hello to two hello's might get to long if carried too far. Perhaps we two should take to further conversation too? I would not want too much confusion and there seems to be plenty to speak of as well."

Alexis Smolensk said...

Bert waves his two hands. "No, no, I have nothing to say about wells. I prefer to leave well enough alone. As far as carrying hellos, that's more the sort of work I'm shaped for. But let us, agreed, keep confusion at a minimum. You spoke of 'plenty' ... is there plenty enough for lunch?"

"Aha," says Hichem, "I shall start on that."

Andrej said...

"Yes, let us speak more so that we better understand one another." Andrej makes himself comfortable and offers that the others, including Bert, should do so as well."

Andrej said...

"You spoke of seven days of our attention. How would this be of service to you, Bert?"

Lukas said...

Lukas decides either this fellow is doing this on purpose to throw them off footing or actually has something wrong with him. Either way, he knows the value of words too well to take any deal at face value...

"Lunch yes, thank you Hichem. A fair question Andrej, and would that be seven days between us? So that should travel be quick it comes out to but 2 days? Or seven accounting for 4 and really 28?"

Maximillian Boii said...

If I appear lost in thought, it's because I'm going over in my head the casting of speak with animals, wondering whether there would be any way to make it help with this confusing little man. But then I remember the children's tales, and the riddles that shape the minds of fey folk, and I realize we're just going to have to muddle through.

Maximillian Boii said...

"But One Bert," I say, as a means of taking the conversation away from this dreadful subject, "If you don't mind, may we set aside the topic of how we shall amortize your attention until after lunch? I've never encountered anyone like you, and I should love to know from whence you come, and how long it took you, and whether you met anyone like you along the way -- in short, will you tell us your tale over our repast?

Alexis Smolensk said...

"I ask for seven because it seemed selfish to ask for seventy," says Bert. "Though two or three will serve as well. I want only company, though if the pony goes that's as fine with me as the other way."

To Maximillian, he'll reply, "I can certainly affirm, without question, to satisfy your curiousity, that I do come from Whence. And Whence holds many fond memories for me, as no doubt it holds for you also; as to how long it took for me to come from whence to here, I suppose the span of time would be as long as it took my legs and arms to grow their full distance out from my body, for they were shorter when Whence I was."

Alexis Smolensk said...

He chuckles. "I would not do the past again, for all the tails that I might tell about. But aye, I'm short. It comes from not being tall like thou."

Lukas said...

"If you are wishing to travel with us for a time, I for one would be interested in the company, possibly compounded, but we shall see at what rate? If you are wishing for us to stay a while here, I think that would be a harder sell. And if you propose your own destination, harder still."

Maximillian Boii said...

Yes, although I do not believe we mean to leave forthwith. There is a little matter of a gaping hole we mean to plumb, I say with a wink.

There is also the matter of those ox-headed men, who stonewalled us previously.

Lukas said...

Yes, and since that left us in the dark on how to proceed we had returned to find some illumination on the topic.

Maximillian Boii said...

Which brings us back to the present, where we find we have not left the gloom behind, for it yet waits in yon tent.

(ooc: Lukas, previously I healed you for 8 hp, it looks like you didn't note that.)

Lukas said...

Thanks, yeah, I'm pretty sure I updated that, but maybe I didn't post it.

And thanks again for the heal.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Bert looks at Maximillian and Lukas. "You've lost me."

Maximillian Boii said...

Being the size you are, I'd think you're easy to lose. Have no fear, friend, we'll find you again. In the meantime, we must attend to our companion, as he attends to his.

Andrej said...

"Me too," Andrej quips. "Some wine?" he offers up his skin to share.

Alexis Smolensk said...

"Yes," says Bert, accepting the wine in a cup and stretching out Hichem's backpack.

Andrej said...

Andrej, satisfied with Bert's company, enjoys the wine instead of further pressing him with questions. He shares it freely and awaits either word from Hichem that lunch is ready or word from Ahmet that the day's leisure should be interrupted. The warm and mild weather is a welcome thing to be savored. We have come through much to be here together.

Lukas said...

Lukas will periodically check on the Vardoo, but not interrupt anything inside.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Somewhere along this time, Sevim opens her eyes ...

(to be continued on the next post)

Lukas said...

Just in case, I thought I'd leave a note here.

In the past there have been posts that just didn't publish.

Alexis Smolensk said...

The next post is up, which includes Ahmet and Sevim. The rest of the party should feel comfortable continuing to comment on this thread.

Lukas said...

BTW is Bert a Gnome, Halfling, or unidentifiable?

"You mentioned banking. I've actually met a few bankers in my time. Where did you work out of? Venice by chance?"

Alexis Smolensk said...

At 18 inches, Bert is far too short for either a halfling or a gnome. He only weighs, at most, perhaps 20 lbs. He has narrow arms and limbs, but a bit of a pot-belly, a pale complexion and stubby fingers. His feet aren't the least bit hairy.

Alexis Smolensk said...

"Wouldn't say I was a banker," he answers. "Said I hadn't done banking in a long time. Not since my river fishing days, to tell the truth - but the banks were better there, good places to stand." He pauses. "Don't know of this place you call Chance. Is there another Venice near there? Must be a fine place."

Lukas said...

Not going to lie, that eases the nerves a bit. Short people who say they have 'banked' before tend to have relations to other important people.

"Chance is a place that increases and decreases in size. Usually how many people go there depends on how big it is at the time. I'm guessing it's pretty small at the moment.

They are rather renowned for their games. In-fact, I've taken out one of theirs, would you like to play a friendly hand?"

Lukas moves to retrieve the precious collection of playing cards he acquired on one of his many shopping trips.


Lukas said...

That he had handy and not in the vardo.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Every time that Lukas tries to get clever, Bert's face shows doubt and confusion; but he is up for a game of cards. "Do you know double-john?"

Lukas said...

"I don't, but learning new things is one of the best parts of life. Perhaps after a handful of hands we can see if I can teach you a game."

Alexis Smolensk said...

Bert will let Lukas do that.

Lukas said...

While playing cards...

"To be honest Bert, I still don't quite know what to make of you. I don't think I've met anyone like you, but you seem friendly enough and I'm guessing the locals have no problem with you.

It might be a bit rude, by my curiosity is honestly beginning to outweigh my subtlety. I'd love to know where you're from, and what you do while you wander. Do you just travel from place to place sharing pleasant company and enjoying all life has to offer?"

Alexis Smolensk said...

(OOC: Every time you ask a complex question, you get a complex answer).

"I would be happy to answer your questions," he says, "Except I hardly understand you. Your curiousity is fat, there was something there about the part that fits a horse's mouth, you're in love with knowledge and somehow you're in a dialogue with life." He shakes his head. "It's all so confusing. I wander when I wander, for that is what I do when I wander, and I have always found whenever I travel that I do so from place to place. Clearly, you've some other means of travelling."

Lukas said...

"Where were you born? Where was your first home?"

Lukas tries a bit more plainly.

Alexis Smolensk said...

"Ah. Well, born in my Mother's womb, of course; that would be my first home."

James C. said...

Andrej guffaws and continues sipping his wine, enjoying the weather and now the show.

Lukas said...

Lukas smirks as if he should have expected that, "And your second?"

Somehow he predicts this will still not be the answer he seeks.

Alexis Smolensk said...

"My second what?" Then he seems to understand. "Oh, my brother. He was born in the same place."

Lukas said...

"Where was your second home?"
And as an after thought.
"And how many brothers do you have?"

Maximillian Boii said...

(OOC, sorry to leave you all alone with Bert, Lukas, I've had some pressing issues this morning. I've been following along and periodically laughing though.)

I join in the game, but don't know if I know how to play this game, or if I need to be taught as well. My character background does talk a bit about card-playing.

Fearing that we'll never get anywhere with questions, I instead tell of our journey through the mountains towards Melitene, our encounter with the wraith, of meeting the Imam Yazigi (I describe the location of his hut, and tell Bert that he should seek him out, if he has the opportunity) Finally, I tell of the horrible Kadi, and the sad tale of Sevim as relayed by the Kadi, up until the point where she was delivered to us.

Alexis Smolensk said...

"My second home?" Bert considers for a moment or two. "North of here," he answers, as though only just remembering after a long, long time. A river, a quiet village, we called it Orot ... in the Thane of Seraphina." He smiles. "As for brothers - one hundred and two, I think. Though I haven't been back for some time."

Bert listens to Maximillian's story, all the way through, stopping him from time to time to clarify things, and declares often, "Lucky, how lucky you were!"

Andrej said...

"Ah, Serafina! I know her. Pretty girl..."

"Aksion Spacimo has been a valued companion, but on days such as this I miss my magic barrel and the kumis."

"There will be plenty pf kumis to come, though. First order of business... we need mares. How else to get kumis?"

Andrej said...

"But of course we have a mare, Sofia's Truth is a female. We just need the right container..."

"Of course, most wine is stronger than the kumis. But it is sweet and it reminds me of home."

"Max, Lukas... should you ever need a laxative, mare's milk is best. Not fermented, mind you, but straight from the teat. It'll have you running like a river."

Maximillian Boii said...

After several times of hearing Bert say it, I say slowly and thoughtfully, to myself, "Yes, yes I am lucky. Fortune has smiled more than she's frowned, it's true." To Bert: "I suppose what counts is finding myself here, alive, and imagining myself a Kite, with naught to look out for but a tasty mouse."

Maximillian Boii said...

"I'll remember that, Andrej."

Ahmet said...

(OOC: Ahmet peers at this thread curiously. Are you all drunk?)

Maximillian Boii said...

(ooc, ensorcelled, perhaps ;)

Lukas, you're swiss, if I'm not mistaken. Tell me of your home.

Andrej said...

(OOC: ensorcelled, drunk... I see no need to draw distinctions)

Once the wine is all shared out, Andrej will take the empty skin and regard Sofia's mare. Now if only we had a foal to get the girl going properly...

Maximillian Boii said...

Seeing that look, and in a hurry to cut him off at the pass, I fetch my bottle of Raki, and pass it around.

Alexis Smolensk said...

(OOC: @Ahmet: they certainly seem to be)

Lukas said...

Lukas will go ahead and share his stories of Zurich.

It will cover points of working with his father at prospecting before becoming apprenticed to a wizard.

From there he spent a deal of time working for the wizard including dealing with fetching supplies for him from the nearby merchants.

He will mention an accident in which he had the fortunate discovery he was resistant to arachnid poison and how that resulted in him meeting a young woman by the name of Rosatita who was a companion for a time.

He will then speak of how he completed his apprenticeship and set to travelling, looking for work. At this point he was discovered by Andrej, Ahmet and another companion on a fateful rainy day.

Lukas will look to the vardo considering his own supply of treats, but decide to not impede on Ahmet's quiet time for now.

Andrej said...

"No, no Max... mare's milk, not lion's milk. Though the raki is tasty it is much stronger than kumis."

"Once we get it into the skin, it just needs to sit of a bit... or, ideally, to be properly jostled with a brisk ride. This isn't a proper milking mare and god knows what the mils from these European breeds will taste like, but beggars can't be choosers."

"Max, have you any experience at the teat? I will need to hold the skin like so."

Lukas said...

"Andrej you are going to get brained by that horse and all will be for naught. Also I may be well put off the prospect of kumis by the fact."

He pauses a thought.

"Besides, I need you to tell the next part, or perhaps the first part. Then maybe we'll fill in whatever is left over."

Andrej said...

Having been absorbed in his quest for kumis, Andrej is at a loss.

"Next part of what?"

He takes a pull from Max's raki, abandoning the empty wineskin for now.

Lukas said...

"I have told up to when I met you, and Max has told up to here, I think you can tell either till when you met me, or till we met Max."

Andrej said...

"Oh... it was Cuxhaven where we met, along the coast. Before that there was much going about from here to there across the middle countries. Then, as now (Andrej nods toward the vardo) it seems I was wrapped up in the love lives of others..."

Moving backwards and forwards as one thought leads to another, Andrej tells of Serafina's vigil at the nunnery in Switzerland and how he had a hand in he reuniting her with Hornung at Dachau. He speaks of his companionship with Jan, Delfig and Emmanuel... of Delfig's and Jan's tragic ends. His own aimless wanderings both before and after these events until the narrative arrives again at Cuxhaven and his voice trials off some.

"The rest you know, friend Lukas."

Andrej said...

"Oh, and the Lombard gold!"

He produces from one of the saddlebags the Lombard helmet and coin he has saved these many months, recounting the story of Charlamagne and the lombard princess as he heard it in the tavern and how this story came to intertwine with Serafina's and Hornung's. That may lead to discussion of the wedding, which Lukas and Ahemt were absent from while they scouted for the bishop. Andrej describes the wedding and the mass he delivered and the girl who was rescued from the dungeon below the cathedral with the help of the gargoyle.


Andrej said...

Talk of the girl reminds him that she is in Serafina's care, as is Ahmet's cousin Fatima. He remarks again how pretty the Lady Serafina is and takes another slug from Max's bottle.

Lukas said...

"Ah, well help me with this next part then. I may forget important parts."

"I think the most impressive adventure yet may have been the siege of the bishops castle! The great explosive launcher at the top of the tower, the dwarves that poor lot! The kobolds and the great beasts tamed by that one dwarf! I still remember you talking about assaulting the front gate even! It was fortunate we found the last. Who'd have guessed we would have ended up on a whole different part of the world?"

This leads to the returning from that trip, "And remember those swamp creatures? We never learned more about those did we?"

"Then there was getting ambushed in the mountains where we met Max. Honerable sort that one."

Maximillian Boii said...

I enjoy greatly hearing these stories more completely, to fill in the gaps between what I'd been told before, etc.

At the lull after Lukas finishes, I ask Bert, "Tell us a story about But One Bert"

Andrej said...

Andrej curls up in the sun somewhere to sleep off some of alcohol.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Hichem sets out the food, hot mashed potatoes, gravy, minced rabbit that he caught on his sojourn away from camp, boiled eggs that he has obtained from one of the goodwives and a pot of chicory coffee, brewed strong.

Bert proceeds to eat about a quarter of his weight in food, more than anyone else in the party can down.

"I knew a girl who fetched a fair price," says Bert. "She was dirty of face and full of lice. She had a pup that followed her near, and a pig that she held most dear. Her husband did not like her her much, but wed her he did out of duty and such. Yet when they to bed they went the first night, he found her beautiful when he put out the light. The pig and the pup were helpful it seems, and he found that all three fulfilled all his dreams. Today it is said he never goes out, and that the reason for this is never in doubt."

Alexis Smolensk said...

(OOC: off the cuff)

Lukas said...

Lukas smirks and offers an appreciative chuckle. Eventually getting around to his thoughts with a slow shake of his head.

"In all the time we will be giving you attention, do you think we will learn about you or just the interesting people you've known?"

Maximillian Boii said...

(OOC: I'm slammed again, at least for the morning. I'll chime in when I can.)

After the laughter dies down, I say "But what about you, Bert?"

Andrej said...

Smelling the food, Andrej rises and begins to tuck in.

"Hey, we still need to get some torches, don't we?"

Ahmet said...

(OOC: Ahmet exits the vardo and returns at some point, but I'm not sure on the timing. Let me know when we're in sync.)

Lukas said...

(OOC: Now is as good as any. Time is all relative, we could have gone sooner or later.)

Alexis Smolensk said...

Bert avoids telling a story about himself, pointing at his full mouth whenever the subject is brought up, then filling it again. Finally he rests back, pats his full belly, and asks, "So what will you do, my new companions?"

Andrej said...

"We'll be looting a temple, Bert. Have you any experience with minotaurs?"

Ahmet said...

Ahmet returns and eyes Andrej like he's crazy.

"Who is this man, to tell him our plans?" he asks. He peers at the priest closely. "Are you drunk?"

Andrej said...

"Bert, Ahmet."

"Ahmet, Bert."

"Perhaps."

Lukas said...

"Probably. However he does not have his skull kicked in which was also a likely state."

Andrej said...

"Bah, you worry overmuch, Lukas. My father was a husbandman and I have been around horses my entire life. Let us set the matter of my drunkenness aside for a bit, yes? We still need torches, or perhaps a lantern of some kind. Provided Ahmet has his domestic business in order I'd like to plan for a return to the temple."

Ahmet said...

"Ah," Ahmet says. "Sevim. I have set her free. She is no longer a slave. However, she would like to leave this land, and has accepted my offer to accompany us as far as she pleases..." he glances around sternly, "...assuming there's no objections from you gentlemen."

Lukas said...

"Depends on you Ahmet. For one thing I'd like to be able to sleep in my Vardo every once in a while. Furthermore, it would be nice to meet the woman."

Andrej said...

"I could hardly object after urging you to free her from Meltinene, but Lukas is right. If you're through considering her your property you need to stop treating her as such. We have tents where privacy may be obtained once she has recovered her strength."

Alexis Smolensk said...

"No, I've never seen a minotaur," says Bert, before being drowned out by Ahmet railing at the cleric.

At Andrej's mention of a lantern, Bert burps, shifts, and pulls a lantern from what appears to be the area approximately where his back should be ... which is particularly odd, since the lantern is about half the size of the fellow himself. "A lantern like this one?" he asks.

Andrej said...

"Yes. And oil, too?"

Ahmet said...

Ahmet can't wait to see where the oil comes from.

Alexis Smolensk said...

"Of course," says Bert. "What good's a lamp without oil? That's why I prefer to keep it filled."

Andrej, if he happens to check, will see that the glass bladder beneath the wick is, in fact, full of oil.

Andrej said...

About how long does a full lantern last? Also, is this a bulls-eye or hooded lantern?

Ahmet said...

Ahmet has a flask of oil from Untern's pack.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Bert gazes incomprehensibly at Andrej. "Last?" he asks.

It is a hooded lantern.

Ahmet said...

"So, Bert," Ahmet says. "From whence do you come?"

Andrej said...

"Nevermind, Bert. Tomorrow at dawn, then?"

Alexis Smolensk said...

"From the minute before this minute, Sir," answers Bert to Ahmet. "And when the next minute comes, the whence I shall have come from shall be now."

Alexis Smolensk said...

"I agree," says Bert to Andrej. "I think I shall take my sleep at once."

And he closes his eyes for an afternoon's nap.

Lukas said...

"Ahmet. I look forwards to my introduction." Lukas comments before thanking Hichem for the food and preparing for an end to a restful day.

Andrej said...

Andrej rests and makes ready for an early start the following morning. He also heals himself with his aid spell (back to max) and offers up a cure light wounds to whomever needs it most.

Lukas said...

I'm only down 3, which by recent mention should all completely heal in one day yes?

Ahmet said...

Ahmet is down 11, but he heals 2 HP per day, +5 for being 5th Level... which would leave him down 4 if my math is right.

Does he get his Constitution bonus (+3) as well? If so, he's only down 1.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Ah, that '2hp/day' rule, Ahmet, was from when everyone only healed 1 hp, so you got a +1 per day hit point bonus.

So, that means, the new interpretation of that would be your level +1 per day. The constitution bonus only applies after a full week of resting.

The party IS resting for 24 hours, however, so they do get that full hit point gain.

This thread is getting long, but I want to point out that along come evening of the 4th, Bert will entirely disappear.

Ahmet said...

Ah, so +5 HP (for level) + 1 HP (background trait Toughness), so he's at 6 HP, and down 5.

I'll take that CLW if no one else needs it, unless we're staying another day, in which case he'll be fully healed by tomorrow anyway.

Maybe Sevim needs it?

Maximillian Boii said...

If Sevim needs healing, I also have a spell available.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Sevim is fine for hit points, I'm just playing up the self-made wound for drama.


For example, me myself I am probably at full hit points right now, but I still feel like crap this morning.

James C. said...

Ahmet: 7 hit points healed

Ahmet said...

Thanks!

Alexis Smolensk said...

Then we are not worried about the disappearance of Bert.

Hichem will tell you, having learned that you intend to return to the treasure hunting you took part in before, that he will be more vigilant in keeping Sevim from doing herself damage.

James C. said...

You mean are we concerned that the fey creature who showed up from out of nowhere with our former and now again servant possessing the one item we absolutely needed to resume exploring the temple and refusing to answer meaningfully any questions posed to him then disappeared just as suddenly... no, not at all. ;)

Maximillian Boii said...

No, not particularly. Easy come-easy go. It would not surprise me if that little fellow caused some measure of mischief yet, but we'll see.

I would like to know if there are any torches available in this town, as backup to the lantern. Also, since no one else needed it, are there any of the villagers in need of healing? I don't want to make a big deal of it - preferring to go forward to the morning - but I'll cast it to cure anyone's wounds.

I roll another 4, so reserving one for myself that leaves 7 hp to go around.

Alexis Smolensk said...

What's funny to me is that no one says, "We look for him." Which simply defines the way player perceive fey folk, as Andrej says.

There's been a hockey game, and now I have a meeting; so I will get something up this afternoon, but not at once.

James C. said...

(OOC: Came home early to catch the game today. Congrats, good luck against Sweden)

Alexis Smolensk said...

The next post is up.