Thursday, February 2, 2017

Reaching Psara

Throughout the night, the wind remains to the southwest and the Mariam begins to make fair progress.  Then, not long after the party rises, a light breeze begins to pick up from the south.  Soon the ship is moving along as a faster clip, until the southwest cape of the Island of Chios appears ahead.  After the noon hour passes, the weather continues to be pleasant but it verges on warm, as the wind from the south gives an unmistakable muggy, subtropical odor.  The ship runs with the wind through the early afternoon, until the Captain orders that you travel west to retain the advantage of reaching with the wind.  Chios quickly disappears off the starboard stern.

By then, there is a moderate breeze blowing, about 14 knots.  It is a firm, stiff wind, and the sails are full as the ship plows on through the Aegean.  With the evening, as the sun approaches the west horizon, the slight warmth of the day gives again to a generous pleasant evening.  At eight, an island appears ahead: Psara, with the mountain of Kimiseos rising on its right-hand side.

The Captain gives orders to heave to, to sail the Mariam nearer the island.  He gives as his reason the need to collect a passenger from the island.  As the sun sets, the ship has moved into the very edge of the harbor; there is a village you can see on the shore, where a few dim, distant lanterns hang upon the exterior of the houses.

Perhaps the party attempts to speak to the Captain, but he is taciturn and unwilling to speak.

It is Wednesday, the 19th of April.  It is pleasant but a moderate breeze continues to blow from the south.

Do remember to eat two pounds of food today each, and yesterday also.  The mess is not open to the party; you are eating your own food.

70 comments:

Kismet said...

d20: 5

I know it's late.

Does it look like there's additional passenger space?
Otherwise I don't think I have any reason to change my behaviors yet.

Alexis Smolensk said...

I had said you're sharing around three staterooms; the four of you could easily fit in one.

Alexis Smolensk said...

[Okay. I'm good to go with the next stage of this, but I'm going to close down for the night. Tomorrow, remember, is my day off, so I will be back on Saturday, about 7pm EST. Until then]

Enrico Guerriero said...

Enrico attempts to strike up a conversation with the grumpy captain, finding him reminiscent of his master, but eventually gives up and sticks with his own party.

Ibrahim Bin Yusuf said...

Ibrahim will keep to himself for part of the day, scribbling away at fragments of poetry; as evening approaches he will socialize with the party.

If the opportunity arises at a lull in the work-pattern of the crew such that can he do so without interfering with their sailing, he'll attempt to entertain the crew a bit with his work and see how it sounds read aloud.

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

Food deductions have been made.

Sofia keeps a watch on the village. I'm curious about this passenger.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Very well,

After a wait of about two hours, you're quite surprised to hear one of the night crew cry out, "Ship on the Starboard side!" This gets a lot of attention from the ship, and the party can easily make their own assessment through one of the port windows in their cabins. Sure enough, to port there is a ship ~ an immense cataphract galley (that is, a galley with a roof above the oarsmen). The ship is in the process of being lit up like a Christmas tree (not entirely anachronistic), as crew run about on its deck lighting up torches and bowls from stem to stern.

The crew of the Mariam does not seem overly concerned, though they are excited. There are no moves to find weapons or ready the ship for battle ~ it becomes apparent from what the party can hear that the arrival of this ship was expected.

Ibrahim Bin Yusuf said...

Ibrahim approaches one of the crew members and asks them about the brightly-lit ship - it's very impressive, but whose is it and why are we meeting them?

Alexis Smolensk said...

You're told that it is the Vizier of the Island of Mytilene, aboard the Grand battle-galley of the Aegean fleet. It certainly looks like it ~ the galley has three tiers of oars and, as it approaches, the deck is higher than the main deck of the Mariam, nearly as high as the merchant ship's forecastle. The galley is more than 200 feet in length. There are at least a hundred and fifty soldiers ~ marines and janissaries ~ in view.

"The Vizier is meeting the Captain," the Bo'sun tells you.

Enrico Guerriero said...

"Is this... normal?" Enrico asks. "The Vizier coming to sea at night, to personally call on the captain of a small ship?"

Alexis Smolensk said...

"I've not seen it before ~ but the Captain has friends in high places. Excuse me." The Bo'sun makes his way.

Since you're talking to the crew, I'll assume you're on deck. The galley is moving into a position to throw a gangplank across to connect it with the Mariam.

Kismet said...

Kismet will try and ensure he does not get in the way at this point. Better not to be seen as impeding upon anything the captain is up to.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Very well, to move this thing forward.

The Vizier comes aboard the Mariam with great fanfare, greets the Captain as an old friend and together they begin to converse. The crew gives them room to do so, enabling them to speak quietly together. Since the crew is between the party and the two, the party does not hear what they are saying.

However, after some two minutes, the Captain and the Vizier begin to move through the crew towards the party; from the look in their eyes, it is quite obvious that they intend to address the player characters.

Does anyone want to take any action before they are addressed?

Ibrahim Bin Yusuf said...

Ibrahim will take that moment to fuss with his appearance, ensuring that his robe falls neatly and that everything is in its place as we prepare to greet this august (and wealthy) person.

Alexis Smolensk said...

The Vizier appears to be a strong, stocky fellow, with a squarish head and a flattened nose, that might have been broken several times. He looks more like a stonemason or a gladiator than a financial wizard ~ but a "vizier" is the manager of all the capital and resources of a political entity in the Ottoman world. In many ways, he is like a co-ruler. As he approaches, he seems quite serious.

The Captain is smiling warmly, chatting with the Vizier as they approach, giving no sign that there is anything untoward that is about to happen.

Enrico Guerriero said...

Enrico stands with his comrades, hoping the Vizier perhaps has news of Ahmet oglu-Ahmet.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Once they have both come close enough to be heard, the Captain will speak first. "My friends," he says. "I have brought you here under false pretenses. You see ~ I was warned of your arrival in Hora. I was told to look out for a man who was carrying THAT sword." He points at the weapon that is right now hanging from Kismet's belt. [I should probably add that the sword, when found, came with a scabbard; I didn't mention it, but let me retcon that particular detail]

Kismet is unlikely to have been wearing the sword in his cabin while waiting these past two hours; as such, it seems strange that he's put on his sword belt without thinking now. He feels alright, however.

Captain Tueni will spread his arms wide in an effort to be unthreatening. "We mean you no harm, neither of us. But at the same time, I was told, when I found you, to bring you to meet my friend Sadi ben Yasshem, the Vizier of Mytilene."

Kismet finds the Vizier's eyes measuring him from top to bottom.

Oddbit said...

"Whether or not any harm is meant, you must admit I'm a captive audience." Kismet places the back of his hand on the sword awkwardly, but probably apparent to said sword he's looking to hear from it.

"Shall my companions be attending as well?"

Alexis Smolensk said...

This is all taking place on the deck of the Mariam; no one has mentioned anyone going anywhere, so I'm a little confused by your question, Oddbit/Kismet. That said, however, there seems to be a willingness to speak with you as a group.

The Vizier will say, "Pardon me, but may I ask you directly: are you a member of the Jesuits?"

At once, Kismet will hear the sword speaking emphatically in his head: "Say yes!"

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

Sofia keeps to the back of the party, keeping an eye on our backs.

I'm comfortable letting Kismet or others do the talking for us. I don't think we have much to fear immediately from these men, and if we do, don't think we could do much other than die heroically. But we won't lack for lack of attention.

Enrico Guerriero said...

Enrico stands boldly at Kismet's side, ready to defend him should this turn ugly.

Ibrahim Bin Yusuf said...

Ibrahim smiles politely while his heart races a bit, hoping that this conversation ends well for the party. He does not interrupt at this time, but stands ready to attempt to defuse any tension with smooth words should things start to grow uncomfortable. Much will ride on Kismet's response and the Vizier's reaction to it.

Kismet said...

Sorry, for some reason I missed the transition and thought I was supposed to speak to yet another vizier. Was half awake last night, probably shouldn't have posted.

"I've no formal initiation, but am currently in their employ."
Kismet replies evenly, "I anticipate it's not the ideal answer but I'd rather not tell a lie out of respect to present company."

Glancing back at the galley, "That is an impressively large ship. Quite the way to make an entrance."

Alexis Smolensk said...

The Vizier raises an eyebrow, indicating he finds this last comment odd. "I have many enemies," he answers simply. "Can you prove your association with the Jesuits?"

Whereupon the sword will answer, "Tell him that ships do not weigh anchor in Thasos at night."

Alexis Smolensk said...

Sorry, I should be clear: only Kismet at this time can hear the sword. I don't mean to imply that the sword spoke to the Vizier or anyone else.

Kismet said...

Kismet replies after the pause to 'listen', "Ships do not weight anchor in Thasos at night."

He watches the Vizier's reaction carefully, that said as a fighter, he probably would read only his combat stance, but he does it the same.

Kismet said...

Dang autocorrect, drop the T in weigh, I'm repeating.

Alexis Smolensk said...

The Vizier visibly relaxes, then moves to clasp both your hands in his. "Wonderful. I'm pleased we can count on you. Tueni has said that you're bound for Constantinople ~ do you intend, then, to search for the books in Khazaria?"

[I think it is a safe bet that anyone in the party can answer that; you're known to be a group by the Captain, who would have relayed this information to the Vizier]

Ibrahim Bin Yusuf said...

Ibrahim speaks up. "We hope first to rejoin with our friends, who are between here and there, but after that it was indeed our plan to seek the Books."

Kismet said...

"Khazaria is in fact the destination. Far eastern portion I believe will be our first point on the quest for the artifact. That said, it was not described as a book when we we're divined it's description. Perhaps the abstract description was that of the cover image, but it seems to be of equal interest to the Jesuits."

He pauses to consider something before continuing, "I'm hardly the one to question their will on the matter, but perhaps it will be an important tool in the search for the Books of Faith."

Kismet said...

OOC: As a heads up, starting Thursday I will be out of town on a business trip, questionable amount of time for posting but I'll have my phone and try to keep up.

Alexis Smolensk said...

[I will make an effort not to wind anything around Kismet]

The Vizier will show his approval for Ibrahim's confirmation and overlooks Kismet's fairly incomprehensible reply [I really don't know what you were getting at there].

"Be warned," he will tell Ibrahim. "There are many who do not want the books found. They include arguments and agreements made during the Council of Nicaea that were deliberately suppressed ~ words that could potentially unite the Greek Orthodox Church with the Russian, perhaps even the Eastern and Western catholic faiths. Any unification will surely be against the best concerns of the Ottoman Empire.

"At the same time, the books could start another war, with Christian fighting Christian. A weakened Russia, Poland and Germany could work very much in the Ottoman's interest. As such, most who are aware that the books exist would prefer they remain buried. You might consider that as a better course of action yourselves."

Kismet said...

I must be on the wrong page then. I was under the impression we were seeking probably a small statue of a man on a horse that was supposed to be beyond the party.

The captain was seeking an artifact.
This artifact was probably in Baskunchak (Far east of Khazaria).
According to the Diviner it was probably a small man on a horse. Probably a statue.

I thought the plan was, find the party then find the artifact/possibly the fate of the captain.

The books specifically were of mention only by the sword and these new chaps and not particularly aligned with our goals except where suggested by the gift of said sword.

Does this seem wrong?

Alexis Smolensk said...

That is what the Old man said, Kismet:

"It's ~" The old man stops about twenty feet away and frowns. "It's a man on a horse. A little man. On a little horse. About . . ." He tries to give its size and shape with his hands. He seems to be suggesting something about the size of a breadbasket."

But the SWORD talked about:

" "I have been in the possession of Jesuits these past three years. I presume you are a Jesuit, that you have been given a task for me to complete ~ but since it seems you are not, from what I hear, then I think this must be something about the Books of Faith. Are we going to go get them?"

No one here seems to have any idea whatsoever about what Philoctetes was talking about. They're not talking about a Jewish artifact, but a Christian one.

Heh heh.

Kismet said...

Well of course.

That lines up perfectly with what I perceive was going on, just that the NPCs are 'muddled'.

So unless the Jesuits suddenly decided that I was on a path I was unaware of (Maybe helping with the mission?) then we aren't in fact searching for the books, but happen to be going to a similar area to where the books were.

In other words, what I said was what we were doing, but what we are doing is not necessarily what they assumed I was doing.

Furthermore since the Jesuits never to my face said, "Good job on the seeking the holy books." I am assuming that they're excited about us seeking this other holy artifact. Although now maybe due to me helping the mission in Khazaria? Hard to say.

So my statement was an attempt to say, "I'm not looking for the books, instead something else, but it seems to me the Jesuits want it too." Without saying what it is.

I see three options for what's happening:
A: Jesuits want us to go for Jewish artifact
B: Jesuits want us to work on the mission
C: Jesuits are confused and think I'm looking for the books so they handed me a sentient sword.

I'm not too sold on C: in a world where a +1 weapon is ridiculously rare. (Unless they know I'm looking for it even though I don't know I am? Thanks Divination...)
And B: doesn't quite seem worth handing over a sentient sword.
And A: A bit well coordinated given the timing of everything.

And I guess there's always D: Get some poor sap to grab the sword and use it to make him search for the books.

Kismet said...

Furthermore, I do think it's safe to say there is a whole era of potential artifacts with crossover between religions. Which is why I wouldn't be surprised if a described Jewish artifact also happens to be desired by Christians. Similarly there's the idea of wanting something so your opposition cannot have it.

I imagine my ability to elaborate my theories in person would be easier and quicker than this, but I don't want to keep saying confusing things for others. And wouldn't mind being corrected by my fellow players if they think this is completely bonkers. I venture to guess in 3 days we've probably conversed on the topic.

Alexis Smolensk said...

I'm much more interested, just now, if there's something that someone might want to say about the warning I've just given to the party.

Kismet said...

Kismet nods, "It only becomes a problem if people know who is trying to find the books. And where the seekers are. Presumably present company is not an issue."

Kismet pauses and looks to the crew for anyone listening in.

"And as for wars or peace, I would think the Jesuits probably have sense enough to keep the finding of the books secret until which point they've determined which is likely. I for one have no intent in waving the discovery about if I find them."

Alexis Smolensk said...

"Yes," says Captain Tueni. "Who would suspect you? It is the reason why I have created the inconvenience of taking you to Kallipolis. You and the sword are less likely to be noticed there. It is probable that if you avoid the largest, most educated of cities, that you will not be noticed by agents of Zurich."

Kismet said...

Kismet's eyes reflexively narrow critically for a moment before he replies, "So are you suggesting avoiding Constantinople then? That seems the implication. I suppose an alternate route might be in mind?"

Alexis Smolensk said...

"I suggest you avoid the Port of Constantinople. If you keep to the outer quarters and do not cross the Bosporus in the city proper it is very unlikely you will be noticed."

Ibrahim Bin Yusuf said...

[OOC Clarification request, as I am not yet fully versed in the world of the campaign but that rings a bell: would 'Zurich' and 'gnomes' automatically connect in Ibrahim's knowledge of the world?]

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

(OOC: Agents of Zurich, eh? It seems that each of Oddbit's characters may be working with or at least of interest to opposite sides of a conflict, and by extension their respective parties. :-) )

Sofia, satisfied no ambush is forthcoming, moves to the front. "Captain Tueni, Vizier - your honor, if I may also be direct, what is your concern in this affair? Are you Jesuits? Or, like us it seems, only agents on their behalf? Would you see Christendom united or further divided?"

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

Ibrahim, consider yourself filled-in by Sofia on all things gnomish except for the meeting in Constantinople between Lukas and their agents. That should include Zurich being their advertised headquarters.

(OCC: I'll be uniquely available today if we can get some playing in as a group.)

:-)

Alexis Smolensk said...

The Captain defers to the Vizier, with regards to Sofia's question. The Vizier says, "I prefer, first and above all things, that we keep the peace. I believe that the Gnomes of Zurich also desire this ~ in this we are agreed.

"That said, eventually the books will be discovered; the only reasonable thing to do will be to recover the books ourselves, then be sure that only those who possess the books learn of their contents. The disaster would be that the books are found by a party willing to release their words to the world, setting it aflame. I do not want to set the world on fire. At the same time, I would feel more comfortable if the books were in the vault of the Emperor than if they were in the hands of the Gnomes ~ who might use them to influence European policy in unknown ways."

Ibrahim Bin Yusuf said...

Ibrahim nods enthusiastically as the Vizier speaks, then responds more animatedly than anyone has seen him outside the recitation of a poem. "A world in flames benefits no one, and Zurich is the last place in the world I would trust with such a firebrand. Whether we are able to secure them or not, you may trust that I will not stand by while the Books fall into their hands."

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

Sofia nods carefully at the vizier's words, as if examining each one for its veracity. When he finishes and after Ibrahim makes his proclamation, she speaks in earnest. "Thank you, Your Honor, your words reassure me greatly. We agree on the fundamentally bad nature of a burning world. So captain, will we be staying long is Psara or will we make haste for Kallipolos?" She looks to her companions faces, to read if there is any unfinished business left unsaid. "It is only that I worry for my master and his friends that I risk you thinking me rude."

Alexis Smolensk said...

The Captain explains, "This is as far as I go. It would be best if I do not arrive in Kallipolis; undoubtedly, there will be someone in Hora who knew of my destination and my connection to the Jesuits is not unknown. We are all being watched."

The Vizier takes this up. "I can assure your passage as far as Kumkale; that is 12 miles from the Dardanelles strait, where you can easily find a boat to Kallipolis, and from there eastward as you will. I should recommend that you keep the sword hidden. For now, if you will come aboard my galley, I can take you to Mytilene."

Enrico Guerriero said...

Enrico thanks the Vizier for his offer, then briefly confers with his comrades.

OOC - Any objections to boarding the galley?

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

None.

Sofia boards the galley unless there is a protest from the party.

Enrico Guerriero said...

OOC - I'm assuming (as we're going from a smaller ship to a larger ship) there's no problem with bringing along all of our gear... and don't forget Enrico's horse.

If the Vizier has no problem with the baggage coming as well, Enrico joins Sofia in transferring to the other ship, assuming no objections from Ibrahim or Kismet.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Some surprise is expressed as the horse is lifted out of the Mariam's hold by windlass, but you find that there is a large enough hold in the galley that the horse can be walked down a ramp that is a permanent fixture of the larger ship.

The galley is called by the name of Naamah, the biblical wife of Noah.

Kismet said...

I have no problem moving on.

If we get some alone time, while NOT touching the sword I confer with my companions.

"We should accept the passage assistance, then when we get to town, maybe we can hire someone to get us passage for 5 people and 2 horses to a town near or at the destination. I don't trust everyone on this ship or the last at all. It should confuse folks when we don't show up on the planned route, and the numbers don't add up on shipping, which should help keep anyone from following us."

Ibrahim Bin Yusuf said...

"Hmm. I suppose that can't hurt, except in the cost. We musn't let paranoia get the better of us, though."

Ibrahim is happy to transfer to the galley, as a man in the service of the emperor who knows enough to distrust gnomes is likely a safe ally for now.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Please do talk among yourselves; when you're ready, I'll take you to the next moment of interest.

Kismet said...

"Of course they'd never do anything while other Jesuits know about it. But setting us up for something down the road seems to be the biggest threat."

Kismet said...

Also I'm ready if we have no other thoughts.

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

"When we arrive in Kumkale we can follow the coast through the Dardanelles on foot to skip Kallipolis all-together. We would miss the opportunity for the closest good market, but I'm sure we will find another between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea. The Vizier seems to expect our striking east right away, while our intent remains to seek our masters in Rostov to the north. The larger question looming for me is whether to pass through Constantinople at all. Also, I wonder if keeping the sword out of sight is enough to keep it hidden. What precautions on that count do you intend to take, Kismet?"

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

"Or, take the boat to Kallipolis as advised, but there strike out on land across Thrace and make for the south-western shore of the Balck Sea above Constantinople."

I'm counting three options so far:

a) Stick to the original plan, go by ship to Constantinople (or Uskudar, across the Bosporus) and there find passage to Rostov by as many stops between as necessary. Advantage, quickest route and plenty of markets. Disadvantage, easily followed or watched at each stop.

b) Disembark in Kumkale and walk the southern shore of Marmara, taking a boat or remaining afoot as opportunity presents. Advantages, Being the least direct route to the Balck Sea we are more likely to avoid detection. Disadvantages, not many towns and no market towns that I see so supplies might be difficult to come by. This would be the longest and most uncertain route.

c) My current preference, find passage to Kallipolis and there make use of the market to supply ourselves for an overland trip across Thrace to the Black Sea. Once there, follow the coast up through Bulgaria, Romania etc... and on to Cumana either on foot or by boat as opportunity presents itself. Advantages, the most direct land route to the Black Sea, has a market, and we have the option of sea travel after bypassing Constantinople. It strikes a balance between the directness of option a and the meandering of option b. Disadvantages, slower than option a.

Kismet said...

I have many sacks.
These sacks are good for putting things in.
Should cover the sword point.
And the rest of the sword for that matter.

As for the route, if we do C, looks like our first potential major sea route would be Varna... Although apparently the map I acquired isn't high res enough to make out the little ones.

As for going the land route all the way, that's a HUGE foot journey. For better or worse. I think we should lean towards sea. That said, on foot we might level up a few times before we get there. Maybe Lukas would become Kismet's henchman.



Alexis Smolensk said...

Sofia, a couple of small points.

Rostov doesn't exist. It is a city founded a century later at the mouth of the Don, but isn't there for my world. Rosk is about 30 miles to the west of the future site of Rostov and not the same place.

You can tell from the diary that the party isn't in Rosk yet; I don't know if you're assuming you'll get there at the same time or if you'll beat the party there, but that doesn't seem to be part of your thinking and if you were in the actual situation it most likely would be.

For maps of the "C" route, look here and here. Click the maps for a larger image.

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

Kismet, do you have a preference for one of a, b or c? Or, is there any option you'd like to rule out? As of now, I'd vote to take C and eliminate B. Others should chime in as they can. Also, if there are options d or e that you see, put them on the table. These were the three that occurred to me.

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

Whoops... Rosk is what I meant, I had the names confused. Thanks for the clarification.

Good points, Alexis, let me explain my reasning and motivations. I'm not assuming anything yet in terms of timing or even finding the main party, actually. My desire, though, is to meet up with them so I am just going on what we know at this point as far as where they might be. The diary stated the party disembarked May 24th and the Captain, "... stayed near Rosk for three days." As Rosk and Azov were the only settlements of note in the region that I recall being discussed, Rosk seemed a likely place to either meet or get news of the main party. There was a (Greek, Byzantine?) ruin nearby as well, if I recall correctly, and lacking news of the party in Rosk I would search there, along the coast and along the Rosking river.

While I'm taking the time to explain myself more, let me open the discussion further. I settled early on for this course when we re-started. I expected after reuniting we'd decide between mission work and pursuing the Books. Am I overlooking a desire to do something else from the rest of the party? If so, I'm sorry, somebody please explain. I'm always open to talk things over.

Enrico Guerriero said...

I think "C" is a good compromise.

Enrico's top -- really only -- priority is finding Ahmet; if finding the books leads to Ahmet, so much the better.

Oddbit said...

C works. There's the Jewish artifact, which we have more info on...

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

Regarding the Jewish artifact, I was hoping the party merge would reveal more answers to the mystery of where is the captain, what was she after and if she was double-crossed (by the Gnomes?) why? Is there a correlation between the Jewish artifact and the books somehow? Does the illusion book Lukas currently possess relate to any of the above?

Sofia Viktorova Koleva said...

That's 3 votes for C. There is time to change our minds once we board the galley, get to Mytilene and take action there. For now, I think we can proceed to the next post aboard the vizier's galley, yes?

Alexis Smolensk said...

Good enough for me. I'm just working on some other projects, but I'll put up the next post in a few hours.

And I will be available tomorrow, for the early half of the day, so don't disappear.

Alexis Smolensk said...

{Sorry, all. I'm just too deep in the writing of my book just now. I will take the next step. I will be available tomorrow, as I said]

Alexis Smolensk said...

I knew that was going to take awhile ~ but, at last, the next post is up. My apologies for the delay.