Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Towards Evening, Langenthal Town

Monday, May 19, 1650

Delfig and Andrej are swept down the road amid much celebrating, as are the saved victims of the fire, a distance of a mile - which takes a good while, and a fair portion of the mania does subside before reaching the town.  By then, the two of you are somewhat exhausted by embraces and back-slapping ... you feel much better as, near the end of the trip, some of those who have run ahead return with bottles of wine, which make their way around the crowd.

Langenthal is a cluster of 150 houses, with an ordinary Romanesque church and a town hall, without a wall.  It does not cut an imposing figure on the landscape, and is built in a bottom land between a low ridge (which the characters have just crossed) on the east, and substantial foothills on the west.  The Jura Mountains can be seen in the distant west.  The land is a mix of farming and forests - it is much more wooded here than it was on the road to Berne that the characters were following.

A deputation has gathered on the road leading into the town - it consists of the town Burghermeister, several persons in uniform, more than a few guardsmen and a Catholic priest.  The characters are brought to the front of the crowd - whereupon Herieux sticks himself between them and the deputation.  "Gentlemen," says Herieux.  He repeats it loud enough to silence the whole crowd.  "I give you the Heroes of the hour, two blessed men with remarkable forethought of action, cleverness and bravery, who have this day saved eleven people!  We all owe them a great debt!  I present Father Andrej and Master Delfig!"

The Burghermeister steps forward, and puts out his hand.  "Good men - what service can the town of Langenthal offer you?"

Monday, December 28, 2009

Mid-Afternoon, the Langenthal Inn

Monday, May 19, 1650

Following the landing of Andrej back upon the ground, and the safe retrieval of potential victims from the fire, the pair of rescuers are embraced by the crowd, lauded, raised by their legs up from the ground and carried about for some many minutes.  The crowd promises a great feast, the crowd promises that medals will be forged, the crowd promises many things.

Carlo promises that he will be ready as soon as he - with Emmanuel's help - return the tarp back to its place.

M. Herieux's words upon greeting the two of you are "Capital, sirs!  Absolutely capital!  The crowd wishes to take you to Langenthal, and introduce you there to the council and to put up a great dinner in your honor!"

As you think of this, you find Jan looking worried.  "We must be on our way," he says.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Afternoon, the Langenthal Inn

Monday, May 19, 1650

As the party and the Herieuxs tumble out of the carriage, they are met with the sight of a large building on fire - it is four stories high, at least 50' by 30' in dimension, and is burning primarily along the main and lower floor.  Black smoke is tumbling across the sky away from the carriage, as the wind blows - it is only as Carlo came around a copse of trees that it could be seen.  The burning building is some 90 yards distant.  All around its base is a large crowd of some eighty persons, who seem uniformly helpless and mesmerized by the burning structure.

Carlo describes it as the 'Langenthal Inn' ... the road to the town of Langenthal, three miles off the main road, forks to the right alongside the Inn.  This place has been a landmark for some two centuries, and seems quite a magnificent, half-timbered structure.  At present, it is evident to the party that there are persons trapped on the highest floor.

Morning, the Coast of Epirus

Thursday, May 22, 1650

Overnight, the Alcmaeon has made its way south.  When the party is allowed on deck during the morning, they are able to see the distant coast (for which I could find no decent picture), rocky and covered over with scrub and wild olive trees.  The weather is markedly warmer here than it was in Fiume, from where you departed ten days ago.

Omari will approach both Pyxaanthal and Vespasiano.  "What has become of your friend?" he will inquire, somewhat insidiously.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Late Morning, Corfu Harbour

Wednesday, May 21, 1650

Vespasiano and Pyxaanthal find one another at the bistro near the ship, the same bistro that was mentioned the day before.  It is another warm, fine day, quite comfortable.  The bread is fresh, a mere 4 c.p. a loaf, and palinka, a sort of distilled brandy, available at 2 s.p. a glass.  A nice breakfast mackerel is only 10 s.p.

The party has only just heard; Telo made an attempt to kill Hafsah and Lateef, from the boat, and failed.  He managed to wound Lateef before being bludgeoned to death by the master of the house where Lateef was staying, and the master's two servants.  Pyxaanthal might, but Vespasiano probably doesn't, know why it happened.

Midday, Departing from Olten

Monday, May 19, 1650

Emmanuel leads the party to the gardener's market on the south edge of town, and towards a generously sized carriage awaiting there.  It stands eight feet, with wheels that are four and a half feet, pulled by four strong cart horses - by the look of them, you'd guess them to be French percherons.  Each would weigh three quarters of a ton.  The carriage itself is classic design - two doors, on each side, two windows on either side of the door, and a window in the door itself.  The floor of the carriage sits rather lower than the front or back ends, so that it bows in the middle towards the ground - still, it has 15 inches of clearance.  It suggests a comfortable riding experience.

Before meeting the driver, you glance and see a couple standing near the side door of the carriage - a gentleman and lady, dressed in the French style of the period.  He does look pompous; she looks rather as though she is trying to appear younger than she really is.  But at present, you only see either at a distance.

Emmanuel introduces you first to the driver, Carlo.  He is a Catalan, from Barcelona, and he is mistreating the horses as you step forward - oh, that is to say he is being impatient with them, and none too gentle in his impatience.  He bows as he is introduced to each cleric in turn, and will give less of a bow to the bard.  It is clear from his speech that he is no gentlemen, though he affects the manners of one.  "Sir, Fathers," he says to the three of you, not looking at Emmanuel.  "I am told you wish to reach Lausanne.  I shall bring you there by tomorrow evening, for five pieces of silver.  I shall demand an extra piece if it storms, and ten extra pieces if we encounter bandits ... providing they do not denude us of all our wealth - in which event, should it occur, should I find myself without means, you should share what you have with me and not abandon me upon the road.  Is that satisfactory to you?"

Monday, December 7, 2009

Morning, Olten

Monday, May 19, 1650

Prior to the sun's rising, the captain directs the party on board once again, the lines are laid out for the hauling animals and with the daybreak, the boat is again ascending the river.

I believe earlier I called the river the 'Aau' ... which wasn't right.  It is the Aar.  As you ascend, it is only two bends of the river before you reach the town of Aarau, a little town of about 1,300.  Only three miles further up the river, a journey that takes almost three hours, you reach the town of Olten (pictured), perhaps a third bigger than Aarau.  This is the boat's destination.

Jan will send Emmanuel off to locate a pack animal.  Jan himself will choose to sight-see.  He pays out a silver piece from the communal store for Andrej to enter the town (11 s.p. left), paying his own way and letting Delfig manage.

The most significant thing about the town is the bridge over the river Aar, the largest bridge the party will be likely to have seen.  It is more than 400 years old.  I believe it is the one pictured on the right side of the pic.

Morning, Corfu, Telo & Py

Wednesday, May 21, 1650

The house in which both Lateef and Hafsah stayed the night is built directly into the side of the hill, overlooking the west sea, and is, as I said, three floors.  The roof is more or less easily accessed by the hill above it, though of course there may be traps.  Telo's knowledge from viewing it from the outside would suggest that the main bedroom is on the top floor, the secondary bedrooms and quite probably a library is on the middle floor (Telo can smell a particular must that suggests the latter), and the kitchen on the lowest floor.  The middle floor only is accessible from the street.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

All Day, Rhine River

Sunday, May 18, 1650

The sun rises as you reach the far, west arm of Lake Constance, and enter the Rhine River.  You discover upon inspection that the boat is driven by the two mules below deck, turning a screw which in turn drives a paddlewheel, moving the boat forward.  This has been a repetitive sound that you have heard all night long, and which you at last understand.

I have little to give here except description.  The valley of the Rhine is, of course, very beautiful.  The river flows between hills, and through the day you pass the little towns of Stein-am-Rhine, Schaffhausen and Waldshut, not to mention numerous castles, before finally reaching the confluence of the Rhine and the River Aau.   The falls are the Rhine Falls at Schaffhausen.

The captain brings the boat near the shore at the fork of the rivers, to a dock where a group of men are waiting.  The captain meets with them, pays them out some money, and proceeds to unload his two mules and two of his donkeys.  With the help of the men on shore, the animals begin to drag the boat upstream.  It is fifteen miles to Olten, the boat's destination, and the going is slow.  However, the river current is not strong, as the Aau moves very slowly.

Throughout the day the party can do little but rest, work, pray, enjoy the scenery and rest.  Jan heals himself and feels better all around.  As night falls, the captain moors the boat on the shore, and the party is free to step onto land and wander a might.  The captain recommends that no one goes very far, as the villagers are not welcoming, but several people do enter the woods along the short to gather firewood.  A great bonfire is built.  Stories are told (nothing of note), the captain produces a small keg of ale and everyone is free to partake of it.  With the setting of the sun, the sabbath has passed, and Andrej and Jan are free again to work at what they will.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Nightfall, Lake Constance

Saturday, May 17, 1650

The boat that Jan has managed to secure for your journey is about sixty feet long, twenty feet broad and ten feet deep.  The donkey, along with two other donkeys and two mules, has been placed into the boat's hold.  The party will find space for themselves on the deck, near the prow, where they can sleep among the ship's food stores.

The boat is more of a barge than a ship, having no masts, only rudders and a low cabin for the captain and his three crew.  I will pass over giving their names, until it becomes important - we'll assume you know them and that if you were to ever meet them again, you might remember their name.  They do not seem to work very hard during the first part of the journey, as the waters are wide and deep, this being the second half of May and the melting snow having just begun to affect the waterways.  Another month and the water levels might rise to flood levels, but at this time of year, it is a comfortable journey.

Lake Constance, viewed by the party as they pull away from Lindau just before nightfall, is like a great brass mirror, reflecting the setting sun.  The moon is showing only a waning crescent, the new moon coming in four days - it, too, sets two hours after the sun, and full darkness prevails.  The party members find this quite disturbing, or possibly compelling.  Except for a few distant fires burning upon lighthouses, it is the first time in their lives they have experienced a complete lack of physical features at night.

Andrej and Jan, of course, spend the evening in prayer, while Emmanuel cooks and Delfig works on his music.  That is only my assumption, of course.  There's not much else to do; but I do want to stop here, and let the players have a say before moving on.