Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Campaign: North Gate

Upon stepping from the town gates, you see the quite beautiful vista made that is the countryside north of Dachau, the road winding up into a low string of hills before descending, just beyond, into the valley of the Danube. To your right, you can see the narrow valley of the Amper, the small stream that flows through Dachau, which will lead down into the valley of the Isar. Not far away, to the left, you can see a grove of apple trees, interplanted with hawthorne and cranberry bushes. The road itself passes through a dry, flat pastureland, where move some seventy cattle tended by a number of herders, townsfolk who bring their animals out of the town in the morning and let them feed before returning them at dusk.

Some hundred yards away you see a stone blockhouse, some twenty feet high and much larger than an ordinary house. There appear to be no windows, nor shutters, only empty cavities where both ought to be. As you approach, you can see a scaffold that has been attached to the front of the structure, from which hangs a man and a woman. You would guess that both have been hanging there for two, perhaps three days. You can see now that the building has been burned out, for charcoal scars, nearly the same color as the stone, score the hard granite above the windows and the entranceway.

There is naught upon the road but a farmer and his wagon, but a quarter full of hay, which is steadily approaching the town from a few hundred yards distant. But a single stile fence runs along the right side of the road for a hundred feet past the town’s gate, and you see three young boys, not yet ten, sitting there. For a moment, you remember what it was like to be a boy.

36 comments:

Anshelm Helbelinc said...

"'ey, kiddies, are there no good works you could be performing on the lord's day?" Anshelm calls to the children with a smirk and a friendly wave.

Reaching again for his snuff box, he points out the blockhouse and its former occupants to Delfig. "Is that what they call an omen?"

Were the people that lived in the blockhouse victims of plague or some such? Would we know about this? How do the kids react?

Alexis said...

One kid thumbs his nose at you and another shouts "nyah, you!" They jump off the stile and go off across the field.

You know nothing about the blockhouse. You'll have to ask somebody. As you see the farmer coming along, he pauses in front of the blockhouse, stares up forlornly before continuing towards the North Gate.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

I sigh and put away my copper coin that I had been about to toss to the kids in exchange for information...

I'll go up to the farmer and inquire about his travels and what he knows of the figures and the blockhouse.

Alexis said...

He replies that he's come from his farm at the foot of the hill below the far hill. At your question about the blockhouse, he looks back, scowls, and spits. "Ya. Those town father swines. You see that?" He points. "That Inn's been there since the year 1112. Those hanging there are the innkeeper and his wife. His father and his father's father for twenty four generations have tended that, and the town's murdered them. They say the Inn's a danger to the town. They say that marauders might use the Inn to attack the town. They say that, ya. It's not that that threatens them. No, they want that we should pass through the town gates and pay our silver to drink there. They warned Jan, and Jan warned them. And now Jan's hanging there. It's not right. Come on, mule."

He snaps the lead on his mule and continues on.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

[OOC] Jaw hangs open. Cool. [/OOC]

Delfig raises an eyebrow and motions to Anshelm.

"I wonder what 'Jan' warned them out. I'm going to have a peek around. Keep an eye out." I say and I look about.

[SOI] If people are about, I will wait for awhile until the coast is clear, then take a look at/in the blockhouse to see if it was thoroughly looted, or if anything looks interesting. I'll go as far as to look for basements or such, if it appears safe. If it's not possible, then I'll look about the grounds for anything left or other possible entrances that would lead to root cellars or such.

KenHR said...

"Welcoming lot they are here. Not so sure we'd want to get into a fight with the town fathers on their behalf, but what do you think, Delfig? Maybe they had other secrets..."

OOC: Have we heard any murmurs of discontent in our months patronizing the Pig?

Anshelm Helbelinc said...

(oops. cross-posting.)

Anshelm takes up a place on the fence where the boys were to keep an eye out for anyone approaching.

"I'll whistle if I see anyone, Delfig."

Alexis said...

Delfig,

The coast is quite clear.

The building is quite burned out. Clearly, no attempts were made to put out the fire. The floor has vanished, though the stone piles which once supported the floor supports in the basement are still there. The burnt odor is strong, and there is a considerable pile of ashes. You can see from the doorway that the ceiling has also disappeared, and the building is open to the sky. Taking a quick hop down to the floor of the cellar, you find amid the ashes naught but twisted nails, broken glass, a few large charcoaled pieces that might have been rafters. You may look about further, but I’ll assume that at some point you climb out and wipe yourself clean with a handful of grass.

Anshelm,

It occurs to you that some people had been saying something about putting the country people in their place, but that seemed like nothing more than the usual sort of talk.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

If it needs to be clearly stated, I'll look for secret doors or hidden areas, if I can find such things in the debris. Assuming that's for naught, then yes, I'll jump out and clean myself off.

Anshelm Helbelinc said...

Anshelm spits, then jumps down from his perch on the fence. Approaching the ruin and taking care to stay as far away from the corpses as possible, he calls to Delfig:

"I'm not sure how fruitful this exercise will be, friend bard. P'raps our friends are having more luck at the Market Hall?"

Anshelm Helbelinc said...

A thought occurs to Anshelm.

"No valuables among the rubble down there, eh? Even a nice plate? I wonder if Jan has family in the area?"

Alexis said...

Delfig,

You may safely assume that anything such as secret doors, valuable items, oddly concealed objects, including the future rifling of bodies, is assumed to be your first interest. In cases where such things may not be easy to find, a roll will be made...but none was made here, as clearly everything has been destroyed.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

[OOC] Alexis: Noted. Thanks!

Delfig crawls from the wreckage, covered in soot and dirt. He wipes himself off as best he can, noting that he'll have to do a quick run to the bucket to wash his clothes.

He looks at Anshelm and shakes his head. "Not a single thing left. Either this was a very bad fire or this place was long looted. Strange we didn't hear about it, considering it was only 3 days ago. Perhaps we might keep our wits about us. If the lords and fathers need to point to someone about this, strangers might be the first ones looked at."

Delfig will take a quick walk around the boundary of the area with the woods, to see if anything was thrown into the trees or if anyone is watching them from the trees. Assuming nothing happens, he'll agree with Anshelm to go back to town. If he sees something, such as a person or item, he'll investigate it.

Anshelm Helbelinc said...

Anshelm accompanies Delfig in his investigation.

Alexis said...

Delfig and Anshelm,

You see no one watching or showing any interest, except perhaps a few of the cattle-herders, who might wonder why a fairly well-dressed giant is staggering across the field with a lyre on his back.

The apple orchard is well-tended, even the bushes being clipped to make wide open pathways. In this season the branches are full of white flowers. You see nothing that you describe, but then you realize that this would never be used as a dumping site. You would need to push into the trees to investigate further.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

I will indeed push into the trees to investigate further. (famous last words from the two gents who are out and about in their normal clothes with a lyre as a club...)

Anshelm Helbelinc said...

Anshelm joins in the search (who knew he was such a follower? :) ), keeping Delfig in sight.

Alexis said...

Anshelm,

It's always better to be at someone's back, no?


As the pair of you wander between the trees, the sweet odor of the flowers becomes quite intoxicating. Nothing to worry about, however. The ground begins to rise as you wander, as the orchard clothes the lower slopes of the nearest hill. A further twenty yards and you sense the far edge of the trees, and that there are some kind of buildings just beyond.

Anshelm Helbelinc said...

Indeed, Alexis! :)

Anshelm makes his way to the edge of the treeline, doing his best to stay concealed from anyone watching from the buildings.

He'd be looking for any movement or sign of people.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

Delfig shrugs his shoulders - "Probably just the farmer's house and storage for this orchard, I'd wager..." but he'll look all the same, carefully, not wanting to get chased by anything behind his back.

Alexis said...

You find a small collection of eight cotter's shacks, cotters being landless people's allowed to occupy the lord's land in exchange for their perpetual labor. This being Sunday, none are at work in the fields, but are instead commanded to not work at any activity.

Despite your efforts to remain hidden, your darker appearance against the white boughs is noticed rather quickly. Several men, who had been lounging and waiting for the sun to fall, rise now, grasping the nearest club like object to hand and stand staring at you distrustfully.

Anshelm Helbelinc said...

"Ah, friend Delfig, perhaps we should join our compatriots back at the Pig? I suddenly have a thirst." Anshelm begins backing himelf the way he came.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

I sigh and hold up both hands to show peaceful intent, while smiling. I stage whisper to Anshelm "If you run, you're liable to bring them down upon you. Perhaps they can shed light on the burnt Inn..." I take a slow step forward and continue to show non-aggression.

[SOI]If they come at me like an ugly riot, I'm hightailing it outta there. Otherwise, I'd like to chat with them.

Anshelm Helbelinc said...

Anshelm chuckles.

"I trust you're good with a rowdy crowd, or at least handy with your instrument," he whispers back.

He falls in behind Delfig.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

*chuckles* Sotto voice: "I hope I don't die finding out..."

Alexis said...

They seem to have no inclination to riot. All told, there are five men, and behind them two women. One of the women is holding a rusty knife about ten inches long (she's not bad looking, by the way), the other some kind of hoe. The men are holding, from left to right, a cherry tree branch, a grain flail, a hand scythe, a wooden stool and an eighteen-inch piece of stone that might have been used for sharpening.

The runt of the group, being five-foot-three, the one with the scythe, asks menacingly, "What do you want, stranger?"

Anshelm Helbelinc said...

"This is your chance to shine, Delfig."

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

I smile as broadly/winningly as I can. "Good friends, we are just out for a Sunday stroll to take in the lovely country. We mean you no harm and in fact, as I am a musician, I would be happy to play for you, should you be so kind." I keep my hands outstretched, but I'm also waiting to see if they're going to remove my head from my neck.

[SOI] If they're agreeable, I'll get my lyre out and settle down for a bit of music and dance.

[OOC to Anshelm] Yea, or time to die... LOL

Alexis said...

They seem to relax. "Well, let's see you play," says the runt.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

I smile agreeably and get my lyre from my back. Smiling broadly at the women equally, I settle back and begin to play a popular dancing tune that I'm comfortable with. I'll do so for awhile to calm them down and see them entertained. Assuming that goes well, I'll chat with them about the goings on in the town. I don't ask what they're doing here and I don't ask about the blockhouse... yet.

Anshelm Helbelinc said...

Visibly relieved, Anshelm leans against a tree, clapping along with the tune.

Alexis said...

The moment is suitably pacified. Listening to music and playing music is one of the permitted activities on the sabbath, and you are gratefully appreciated, once they understand you have no malicious intentions.

They will become increasingly agreeable as you play, and will invite you to share in their afternoon meal.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

[OOC]Oh man, never thought about what is legal on Sabbath. *gulp* Time to go reading... [/OOC]

I'll continue to play and graciously accept their offer to share a meal.

During the meal, I'll mention the town and I'll refer to the blockhouse as "the obvious statement the townsfathers have made on the road outside town" and see what they say. I'll be neutral in the conversation, I'm looking to see if there's something obvious going on that we're just extremely unaware about (referring back to the farmer's comments about the fathers and the commoners).

Anshelm Helbelinc said...

Anshelm, for once, holds his tongue.

Delfig Kôlhupfer said...

[OOC] My workday ends at 4.30pm CST and I'm involved in commute/meal till about 6.30/7.00pm CST. I'll check on the resolution about then. Just in case you're trying to wrap things up, Alexis. [/OOC]

Kazimir said...

Meanwhile, back in town...

Kazimir enters the Pig, looking for his friends and realizing that he is somewhat late. If he does not see them, he will inquire with the bartender.