Thursday, October 27, 2011

First Afternoon in Oldenburg

Sunday morning, August 17, 1650
Weather:  Cool, cloudy and with a gentle breeze from the west (good sailing conditions)

To begin, everyone joins in breaking camp, gathering their things together.  Silvius in particular suffered somewhat during the short night, getting not much rest and suffering 1 h.p. of damage in the way of a sore back and shoulders.  The last business of the party is dealt with before moving forward.

The party enters Oldenburg through the east gate of that town, taking note that the town seems remarkably pristine and clean, and in fact unaffected by the late war in everyway.  The walls are strong and only a few decades old, the streets well-managed and wide.  The town is quite large, more than ten thousand people, but suggests a comfortable and wealthy populace for the most part.

Because it is Sunday morning, the main portion of the town has settled into the dozen or so churches in Oldenburg, closing shops and emptying the streets.  When the party does find a place to stop, rest and put up their horses, they find only a 14-year-old boy on duty, and no one else.  He will stable the horses and allow the party their business.  The kitchen is closed until noon; no beverages are for sale until that time, and no liquor until six this evening.

At this point, Jack thanks the party for their hospitality, promises that he will pass it forward to others, and asks if the party will forgive him moving on.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Jack's Tale

Saturday afternoon & evening, August 16, 1650

With the afternoon the sky grows increasingly overcast, with the wind rising to where it sways branches and small trees; the weather remains no less pleasant, however, and rain seems to avoid falling ... so except for some slight pressing of the wind while walking, you make fairly good time.
As you approach Oldenburg you pass more and more loaded carts filled with hay and seed, and sometimes with asparagus and kale.  Then when you reach Oldenburg itself, you find some sixty or seventy wagons standing and waiting outside the town gate, jamming up the road and parked upon either side.  It is about an hour before dusk, and by sending Emmanuel forth to enquire you find out that the guards are not allowing any normal traffic tonight into the town, as they are processing wagons entering after the harvest.
You have little choice but to bed down outside the walls for the night.  The sky remains overcast, but the wind lessens.  The smoke jumps around a fair bit that night, forcing the party to change seats again and again between keeping warm, but Jack is pleased to tell stories.
He tells the first about being a cabin boy out of Newcastle and shipping out to the Arctic, where he met the little people called halflings in a town called Archangel.  He then tells a story of how on his second voyage he sailed to India, where his ship was plundered and half the crew taken to a pirate cove Hajipur, sometimes called by the Portuguese pirates Diamond Harbour, in the Great Bengal Delta, where he was for four months until his ransom was paid.  Having made the acquaintance of a fakir called Lassafar, he and twelve others crossed through the hills of Odisha and onto the plains of Bihar, where he saw a great many amazing things about the people called Hindoos, and how they burned their dead on the shore of the Ganges, and how they believed in thousands of gods, and how free their women were with strangers, even sometimes being given by their husbands as sleeping companions to guests.
From Bihar he travelled up into the valley of the Teesta River, climbing thousands of feet to Darjeeling, where they make a marvelous kind of tea, and higher still into Sikkim, where the air became so thin he could not breathe, though the natives could run back and forth as though the air were as thick as by the sea.  Though he climbed many more feet above Gangtok, where the king of Sikkim met he and his companions, finally Jack could climb no higher, though he learned that there were still people who lived in villages which were as high as the mountains that soared up on every side.  He heard tell of yetis and rocs, though he never saw either, and he learned that over the passes was mystical Tibet and beyond that China, but he and his companions declined to go further.
Returning to England his ship was driven by a storm into the coast of Arabia, where it was driven upon rocks.  He was washed overboard near a place called Sayhut, and for days wandered along a desert shore between the great inland desert they call the Empty Quarter, before he was found by a sheik of Hadramaut, in whose country he was.  There he lived for three weeks before gathering provisions to reach Sayhut port, and during that time he lived with the sheik's daughter as though they were husband and wife.  In Sayhut he found his ship under repairs, and rejoined it.  To regain their lost cargo, the captain decided to enter the Red Sea to buy goods from Ethiopia, and it was there that Jack saw a place where lava bubbled up from beneath the sea in a region called Eritrea, so that the sea boiled.
He has been back now for three years in England, and has since found little interest in living any life but one upon the road.  He hopes again to sign with a ship, perhaps in another year's time, and see America, or perhaps Africa, for he has seen none of the south part of that continent save the cape where his ship rounded on its way to India.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Across the Weser to Oldenburg

Saturday, August 16, 1650
With cool temperatures and cloudy conditions.  A gentle breeze brings no rain.

The morning on the bank of the Weser and the temperature has dipped a little ... but it appears to be another fine day.  The ferry operator gets everything ready, and horses and carts can together be put on to take them across.  The ferryman asks to be paid before you leave, a total of 3 c.p. per animal and 7 c.p. per person.  The cart the ferryman will not ask to be paid for.

The Weser is nearly a mile wide, and the Ferry is both poled and sailed across by four men, including the ferryman.  It takes surprisingly little time, as the breeze is caught by the lateen sail and soon enough the ferry slides right across on the wind.  The ferryman inquires as to where the party is going, and without thinking Emmanuel mentions Oldenburg.  The ferryman promises to point out the way, and when the party debarks on the other side he indeed does so.  The Oldenburg road, which will get the party to Engelke, must first be reached by means of another secondary passage over a half-cobblestoned by-way, like the one south of Cuxhaven except a good deal less marshy.

Mid-day approaches and the weather holds, temperatures turning pleasant.  The meadow fields are filled with poppies, the trees about are supporting apples and some northern pears, and now and then is a wide field brilliant yellow with rape or white-and-green with clover, picked over by dozens of fat cattle.

Just past noon, the road meets with a good sized stream flowing eastwards towards where the Weser valley ought to be (behind you now), and you pass a road marker saying that Oldenburg is 8 miles away (you ought to be there before nightfall).  A bit beyond that you find a curious thing.  A man is standing in the middle of the road ahead, with his back to you, and with a piece of string between his hands.  He appears to be stretching the string out the length of his arms and measuring the width of the sky above the road.  He measures it at three and a half lengths of string, seems unhappy about that, and so returns to the right side of the road and does it again.  You see him do it three times altogether before you come within ear-shot.  He seems completely unaware of you.

He's tall, about six-foot-two, weighing perhaps 160 lbs., and wearing a tight brown jacket and breeches, but no robe or cloak.  You cannot see any equipment about the man, or any weapon he might be carrying.  To learn more than that you would need to get closer.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Starting towards Engelke

Friday, August 15, 1650

Weather: pleasant, cloudy

You experience one of the first beautiful autumn sun rises of the year, with clouds in the east turning pink before the sun climbs above the horizon.  The sky is full of big puffy clouds.  The temperature is a bit cool, but it promises to be a fairly nice day.

The road south of Cuxhaven is being used more than most times of the year, as farmers bring in crops of wheat and oats from the soggy farms south of town.  The party finds the road on either side mixed with marshes, small ponds, cattails and much long grass, and to get around the carts its necessary to get off your horses and walk them.

After about two miles the carts thin out and you find you can ride most of the time.  The Holsteiners are unusually light on their feet, and you discover much to your surprise that your asses hardly feel a thing - you find you must comment upon it, as without knowing it you've been given horses which are actually famous for not causing a sore ass after much riding.  With a little experimentation from the fighters, you find the horses are quick to step up the pace, and extraordinarily easy to turn left or right, or come to a quick stop.  The monk and the cleric find it somewhat more difficult to perform these motions, but the fighters have no difficulty, and even find they must cavort a little from pleasure.

You see the barn come up on the right, following a long steady climb onto a low ridge.  It is completely wrecked, and painted a faded blue.  All looks quiet.  There is no horse tied up outside, nor any sign of a person being here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Presentation & Celebration in Cuxhaven

Wednesday afternoon, August 13, 1650

However unhappy they may be about it, the Mayor Johann Helksmueller stands Silvius and Nine-toes upon a platform and gives a speech about their bravery; their strength; the boldness with which they tackled adversity; their special nature and unusual grasp of a desperate situation; their sacrifice of time and effort to do good things for the people of Cuxhaven; their adventurous defense of the lighthouse that keeps ships safe and capital flowing into the hands of every person there; their quiet, reserved attitudes towards accomplishing this heroic task; their simple people-loving habits; their rustic, unassuming appearance, without pretense, without holding themselves to be better than other people, for after all they are only people like the good people of Cuxhaven; their love of Cuxhaven; their at-first refusal of this honor, wishing only to do their duty to the town without seeking glory; their exhortations of the mayor that the reward be small and that it should not weigh heavy upon the town; and finally, at last, the truth about these men, that they expressed a wish for nothing more than that the town should prosper, that the town should present itself well in the world, and that the people of the town should want for nothing, that they should have everything bestowed upon them, that the very simple matters of life be obtained by all, the food on their tables, the tools of their trade, the nets, the ropes, the hulls of their boats, and God willing, all these things come without trial and storm, without the wave that destroys, without the bitterness of war or famine, without pestilence, without the death of our loved ones, or the cries of our children - ending with, "All these things these men, these steadfast defenders of the city, these happy fellows who have the blessing of their friends and followers, these blessed souls, wish upon you, people of Cuxhaven.  Let us honor them in our hearts and with our good wishes."

Whereupon the crowd bursts into considerable applause, mostly from the opportunity to do something after the mayor has gone on and on - and on - and Silvius and Nine-toes are presented with two pouches of gold, and with two beautiful warhorses, which are startling examples of the Holsteiner breed of light horses.  The town applauds some more, and Silvius and Nine-toes are led down into the crowd, where they are thanked and their hands shaken and offers of drink and food, and an Innkeeper named Erwin insists they must come for dinner, and half the town as well, with Andrej and Ahmet peacefully coming along, watching this whole spectacle.  And somehow the Mayor has conveniently disappeared, and the town's guard also.

And after dinner and food and feeling full and a night's rest in the Inn, the party finds that four horses together have been placed in the Inn's stable, and that Erwin has been given a box with a key from the mayor, and that in that small iron box are two more pouches of gold, with small tags that say 'Ahmet' and 'Andrej.'

Monday, October 17, 2011

Return to Cuxhaven

Wednesday, August 13, 1650]
Weather:  warm, clear

The party breaks camp, loads the skiff and Terrell sets about bringing you back to Cuxhaven.  Terrell cannot help at this point to ask most earnestly again about what was aboard the ship, and what the party saw that has kept them talking for so long.  For much of the time Terrell (I presume, since he was being spoken of), was sent off and kept busy by Emmanuel washing the pots, the party's boots, oiling the weapons and so on.

It takes much less time to come back to Cuxhaven than to come out, as Terrell does not need to tack.  He brings the ship in at about 8 knots, and you find yourselves back in the nearby waters in ninety minutes.  The waters are filled with fishermen by that time, spaced over several miles in a sort of cloud in the estuary of the Elbe River.

The party cannot help but notice something quite odd about the fishermen.  For the most party, the skiff comes at nearest a few hundred yards from any of the other boat, but several of the fishermen actually stand in their boats as the familiar skiff comes past.  You see some fishermen point shake their comrades and bring their attention to you, pointing and the like.   One fellow takes off his cap and you can see his lips moving in prayer.

Within good sight of the harbor, you hear a distant horn blow.  This is followed by several others, which continue for two or three minutes, by which time you're within a few hundred yards of the dock you left yesterday morning.

You can see a dozen soldiers on that dock, armed with glaives and shields.  There seem to be a hundred other people besides, and it is quite clear they are looking at you and waiting quietly and patiently for the skiff to arrive.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Wreck of the Pale

Tuesday, August 12, 1650

The sea and the sky shimmer, and as though emerging from a fog, the sandbar and the ship upon it make themselves evident.  The bar is fairly large - the tide has started to go out, this being past three bells - but the ship is close, no more than fifty yards off.  Nine-toes can feel a curse emanating from every part of the sandbar itself.

The ship is immense, rising nearly 30 feet above the sand - almost as high as Scharhorn does above the sea.  In its day it would have rivalled a ship of the Armada; it is well over five hundred tons.  It's clear now that the central part of the ship, along with the deck that protrudes above the sand, has been smashed and splintered all to pieces, great beams are torn asunder, and shattered pieces emerge from the hulk in every direction.  There are no pieces on the sand, of course - they have been long since washed away.  But the party can see the absence of barnacles or even seaweed, which have not gathered upon the ship's form.

Terrell sees that the skiff well and truly is set upon the sand, and he leaps off onto the beach before he can be stopped.  No ill befalls him.  In amazement he staggers forward a few yards, head turned to the side, so that he can read the words on the ship's prow.  All at once he shouts, his hand pointed, "It's the PALE!"  He calls.  "My GOD, that's a lost ship!  Been lost for seventy years!"  He approaches the skiff again.  "It was never found!  Word was it was wrecked by a kraken ..."  He gazes at the ship.  "It certainly looks it.  The thing must have smashed the ship right in the middle with one tentacle!"

When he looks back and sees that none of the party has had much of a reaction from the name of the boat, he'll explain.  "It's the ship of Francois About, the Butcher of Nantes.  He was famous for killing hundreds of Huguenots during the time of troubles in France.  He turned pirate and plundered half a dozen English vessels.  Bloodthirsty as all get out ... the Catholics never produced a bastard like him.  And this is his ship!"
All about while this goes on, the sea is calm, the waves wash upon the shore.  The sun is out and high, the sky clear, the wind from the west at four or five knots.  There's nothing to suggest movement or threat.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

En Route to Scharhorn

Tuesday, August 12, 1650
Weather: cool, clear

Gerhard gives you instructions where to meet Terrell and the boat, which is ready to go when you arrive.  Terrell is a fairly impatient boy, with lots of questions about where you are going and why you're going there, and what you expect to find, and whether or not there's treasure, and have you done this many times before and if so where and how much did you find when you did it that time and so on and so forth until one of you has to threaten him.

The skiff is seaworthy but not in the greatest condition; it needs a paint job, the sails are patched and there's a certain amount of leakage.  Terrell is certain of its doing the job.

At 6 a.m. you catch the lowest tide - it's a full moon, and the tide begins to rise noticeably after 10 a.m. (this passage edited), and by then you'll want to be well out of the flats between the western point and Neuwark.  Terrell guesses it should take about two and a half hours to get to Scharhorn.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Morning After the Crab's Death

Wednesday, August 6, 1650

As soon as light breaks, Gerhard will set about the task of butchering the crab, taking whatever help he can get to load the claws and legs onto the cart.  He has obtained a barrel on loan from Zanfrancesco, and the majority of the body's meat is slopped into that along with salt.  He hopes to leave just after noon, when the tides are receding, and get to Cuxhaven before nightfall.

My previous calculations with the new moon were off; in fact, the new moon was just before the campaign started, not after.  The first quarter rose in the morning of August 5th after 3 a.m.  Thankfully it changes nothing, except the exact moment of the tides.

Gerhard would like to know if you want an exact tally of the weight of meat gathered.  Off-hand, he estimates about 600 lbs., or about 12,000 silver as per your agreement.  He can pay you that amount if you want to settle on the price; he hasn't got the money of course, he'll have to make arrangements with the Hanse bank in Cuxhaven, which he can do personally on Thursday.

Is there anything else that needs addressing?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Evening of the 2nd Day, Neuwark

Tuesday, August 5, 1650

Evening.  Dinner has been eaten, and a baptism performed in the chapel.  There are 20 stones on the top of the lighthouse, hoisted by the unsupported crane.  The net for the supported crane has been laid out and concealed, with food upon it (I will need a % roll from Nine-toes for setting the trap).  The counterweight has been created using the other crane's net, and now sits, full of pieces of wood, on the top of the lighthouse as well, linked to the net on the ground.

Silvius and Nine-toes stand at the top, along with Zanfrancesco, Gerhard, Hans and Rupert.  Hans is tending the lighthouse, spreading the oil over the wood.  In order to lift the stones and drop them, Silvius is stripped of his armor, and neither is carrying a weapon (they are laying next to their feet, if needed).  The crossbow is 3/4 loaded, but will be difficult to use.

As the sun sets it only now occurs to people that the space immediately under the lighthouse will be the darkest area, and difficult to see.  This becomes more pronounced as Hans lights the wood, and the fire spreads and casts its glow on the island.

Before anything else happens, please correct errors or forgotten points.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

2nd Day, Neuwark Island

Tuesday August 5, 1650.


Hans and Rupert stop feeding the fire after 4 a.m., and steadily the last of it burn away just before the sun rises.  The dawn comes in brilliant umber and red colors, with a clear sky over you and clouds in the east.  Rupert collapses into his bed long before dawn, while Hans tends to some last minute details and collapses as well.

Gerhard rises with the party, gives generally the information that I've described about the Hanse and the willingness of the lighthouse keepers.  Gerhard has talked to his brother Rupert about using the platform to throw rocks, and Rupert has agreed to that, as long as he can continue to tend the fire.  Gerhard also discussed about pulling the crab up with the crane, and while Rupert feels the pole can handle it, he's no more certain about the pulley itself than Andrej is.  But Rupert does say there are tools, metal pieces, spikes and timber in the lighthouse basement ... if someone wanted to shore up the crane's timber and improve the joining of the pulley to the crane, all the while hanging 100 feet above the ground.  Rupert declines doing that, but he'd be willing to allow someone else to do it.  He and Hans can load using just the one rope while the other crane - the one facing the direction the crab comes from - is strengthened.

If the pulley were strengthened, then Hans and Rupert would agree that a trap could be laid for the crab with the net they use for hauling wood up.  Gerhard (who is relating all this) explains that the net is strong enough for that, and that the other net used for hauling up wood could be loaded with enough wood to use as a counterbalance, left at the top of the lighthouse and then pushed off at the right moment ... if the crab could somehow be induced to stay in place while people pushed the counterweight off.

That's as much as Gerhard can say.

Regarding all the other practices, plans, intentions and so on, I'd like to play today as though nothing has actually been done or decided.  So if you could please give your character's precise actions from daybreak going forward, that would be best.

Also, sorry, if you could put your OCC comments in brackets, it would be easier for me to decipher through a lot of text when I fall behind.

Welcome back, Ahmet, I hope you enjoyed your vacation.