Friday, February 27, 2009

Campaign: The Cotter's Dinner

Anshelm and Delfig find the food simple but abundant and in excellent flavor, consisting predominantly of old potatoes, turnip greens, young birds eggs, dove, roasted dormice and fresh milk. This being the spring season, and the store of food from the previous autumn having been spent, there are no grains, nor the bread made of it, nor vegetables, nor fruits.

The smallish man, the head of the community, is named Emmanuel; he introduces you to the other men, whose names you’ve forgotten, and to the two women who were present earlier, Frieda and the pretty one, Suzanne. Suzanne is married to Emmanuel, and Frieda to one of the other men. These are the only members of the small hamlet, and you learn that four of the houses seen earlier are unoccupied.

Emmanuel gets quite angry when you mention the blockhouse. “Obvious?” he asks bitterly. “The town knows nothing about it. They’ve been told Jan and his wife were sympathizers who gave comfort to Protestants during the war. They were innkeepers! They gave comfort to whomever knocked on the door!”

Suzanne tries to soothe him but he won’t have it.

“It’s the war that’s done this,” Emmanuel says. “I’m naught but a cotter, and I’ve naught to do but tend the lord’s sheep and find what food I can, but I can say there’s an evil loose on the land. It’s these men taking pay for doing nothing. My father could remember when the men who owned and worked the land would rise in war to defend it—but those days are gone, and but in one generation. Now it’s the soldier, always the soldier, fighters with no master but the paymaster, who defend not the town but the purse of the town. Hired to fight the Protestants and now kept in hire to fight innocent innkeepers and their wives!”

Emmanuel stands up, needing more room to continue to rant.

“And who holds the purse? The merchants, that’s who! None of them landowners, none of them with a stake in this town nor any town, who gather their things with them whenever they wish to steal from us before moving on to steal from someone else. It’s they who dictate to the army, its they who pay the soldiers and feed the soldiers. If you go into the town, and you look in the town hall, do you know what you’ll find? There’s a notice there asking for more soldiers! For what I ask you? For the good of the peace? Not at all! For the good of destroying the peace, that’s what, to make more monsters to hulk out from the town and pillage the gentle folk here! God, I beg you, put an end to it! Deliver us from these money-loving sinners!”

He sits again, quite worn out, while Suzanne wets a cloth in the corner water barrel and wipes his forehead with it.


Anshelm Helbelinc said...

Though his stomach will likely revolt later on, Anshelm eats what is given him.

"You speak boldly, friend Emmanuel. I'm not so sure we can put an end to what you describe on our own. We might at best cause them annoyance, like flies on horses' hides. But even a small service might give you some satisfaction...what other depredations are the soldiery responsible for?"

Anshelm Helbelinc said...

Are there legal penalties is one is caught speaking in the manner Emmanuel is, by the way?

Alexis said...

Well, if someone with power heard him, he might "disappear." But who is going to hear him here?

Anshelm Helbelinc said...

Just trying to see all the angles. :)

Anonymous said...

I gladly and thankfully accept the fare that we're given, and eat it with obvious gusto and relish. I will introduce myself by first name as well, and become *extremely* polite as I learn that the women are married.

I listen quietly to Emmanuel's speech and after he's finished, I'll strum up a quick note on my lyre and nod. "Indeed, it is often the common folk who are left to bear the burdens and depredations of those who hold the purse. Certainly the wars of late have left most of the common man grasping for what little was left by the mercenaries."

I nod in agreement to Anshelm's question and ask a followup. "Tell me, was all the townleaders of Dachau united in this or is there unrest between the landowners and the merchants?" .. and as a quick aside, I'll ask whose lands we are currently sitting on.

Alexis said...

You receive the answer that certainly, the town fathers were unanimously united in this, as they all expected to increase their wealth. Those who were first opposed were won over with benefices and grants of land, and have become the loudest proponents.

You are on the land of the Baron Egbert Wittelsbach von Asper, a name you recognize as part of the family controlling much of the territory around Dachau.

Anshelm Helbelinc said...

Do we know much about the Baron von Asper beyond his name?


Anshelm asks if any others have expressed discontent. If so, who and how many? And is any one of the town fathers particularly notorious for committing these injustices?

Anonymous said...

Delfig nods at Anshelms question and waits for an answer, strumming idly on his lyre.

Alexis said...

Several of the men express their particular dislike for both Martin Folkes, the Lord Mayor, and Erich Kinski. "Two sides of the same coin," goes the sentiment.

You know virtually nothing about the Baron, as you are not from this town. Delfig will know from being from Munich that the Wittelsbach family have long been a powerful royal dynasty ruling multiple territories and lands throughout the Holy Roman Empire...including a former member, Louis IV, being himself an emperor. You cannot know how the Baron von Asper is related to the greater family, or if he is in the line descended from Louis the Emperor.

I could tell you more, but you would need to speak to a sage or one of your more educated companions (mage, cleric) might have read something about it during their educations.

Alexis said...

Oh, one thing. The present Duke and Elector of Bavaria would be Maximilian I, the Great...who is a Wittelsbach. He is 77 years old.

Anshelm Helbelinc said...

"I assume our friend Jan was a victim of the Lord Mayor's marauding mercenaries. What else is he responsible for? This Erich Kinski: who is he?"

Alexis said...

Emmanuel will tell you that Kinski owns the taxation privileges on boats descending the Isar River from Munich to Passau, at Freising, Landshut and Landau...where all the fees are exhorbitant except to his associates in Munich and Dachau. "He's turned the river into a private waterway," says Emmanuel.

The Lord Mayor's pedigree is of equal quality: Folkes owns the town brewery.

Anshelm Helbelinc said...

"They seem to be scoundrels, the lot of them, though with friends in high places. Privilege rarely goes to those who are truly deserving, I always say," says Anshelm, picking at his nose.

"Tell me, where do the Lord Mayor and this Kinski live?"

Anonymous said...

"You mentioned that the landowners seem to have become quiet in a generation. Do the soldiers still respect the landowners or have the merchants started becoming more bold in their depredations, even at the expense of your Lord?"

After hearing answers to his and Anshelm's questions, Delfig would note the time if it is getting late, as he wants to return to the town to meet up with his friends and see if our companion has arrived. If it is late enough, he'll stand and bow "You've been most kind in your hospitality and your words." He'll take a few coppers (7) from his pouch and say "I too have very little, as my travels have left me hungry, but as you have shared with me, allow me to express my gratitude... and perhaps your assistance should our paths ever cross again."

Alexis said...


Emmanuel and the others have no certain idea. Only one of them, Suzanne, have ever been in the town. Suzanne was once there as a little girl. They haven't the money, you understand, to pay the silver piece needed, and all of them are bound by debt to the Lord.


Both the nobles and the merchants have become the same people, or so close in each other's pockets as to make no difference; this you would glean from Emmanuel's words, though it may be somewhat unclear to Emmanuel and his peers.

They will refuse your coins, since to be in possession of them would be a week in the stocks. "But if you would be kind enough, master Bard, to come and play another Sunday, we would be most grateful."

Alexis said...

We will pick this up again at the Pig with the whole party.