Chapter 0: The Trip of Ludovicus

Ludovicus waits somewhat impatiently, strolling briskly around the church to look at the artwork. Gradually, he calms down and begins thinking of the past. He lights a candle and says a quick prayer for his family. When the priest and Giuseppe return, Ludovicus says contritely, "Father, please forgive my earlier haste. May I still accept your offer to hear my confession?"

((If the priest agrees, and if it's OK to skip the details of the confession, then once he is finished, Ludovicus will find Giuseppe and ask him:))

"So Giuseppe, do you have a preference for how to proceed? Should we head back to the docks and find a ship, or should we take to the roads?"

(Just an outline of what sins you may confess. Just in case you decide to repent and ask forgiveness for being a practitioner of magic. :laughing: )

"Well, master, on a boat there is less chance of being waylaid by thieves or brigands on the road, and it is a bit faster. But it is more costly and we don't have much money left. On the other hand, taking the road it is easy to get lost."

"In any case, not understanding the local tongue makes stuff difficult."

(Ludovicus confesses to harboring ill-will toward an individual and desiring his death (Machmalius), and to being prideful.)

"Quite. Well then, let's return to the docks and see how far upriver our money will take us. I suppose we should have started asking around there to begin with and saved ourselves some time. But at least our diversion allows us to continue our travels with clear consciences."

Ludovicus backtracks to the docks, first to the slip where the boat they took from Italy was docked, to see if it is still there. If so, he asks Giuseppe to ask the captain if he knows of any ships traveling up the Elbe. If not, he approaches other ships, one by one, until he can find one with sailors who understand Italian. If he's lucky enough to find any, he will again ask Giuseppe to inquire about passage up the Elbe.

(The Italian ship you boarded in Rome has long been left behind. You had to switch ships a number of times before arriving in Hamburg. See my previous posts. Those ships are too large to travel upstream anyway.)

((Ok, then his plan is to approach sailors of small vessels and try to make it understood that he is seeking passage on one that is going upriver - he'll pantomime boarding a ship, point south, say Elbe, and gesture to his coin purse.))

When Ludovicus and Giuseppe are back to the docks, the grog says, "Let me handle this, master. I may not speak their language, but at least they won't treat me like someone out to steal from them in their sleep."

After some time spent moving from one part of the docks to another, trying to get himself understood, Giuseppe returns. "I found a boathandler who agreed to take us aboard. He leaves tomorrow at dawn!" The grog grins at his success. "What should we do now? I'm thirsty. Wonder where we could get some wine?"

"Well done Giuseppe. We should certainly find ourselves a place to stay nearby, and I'm certain we can also find some place to get a drink."

Ludovicus looks around for an inn. If he sees one he walks toward it; if he doesn't , he walks along the docks until he does.

Ludovicus reflects on the previous night's events as he looks at the water flowing beside the barge.

They had eventually found a boarding house, renting a minuscule room with narrow bed -- more like shelves hung from the walls -- with thin mattresses. Smelly and not particularly clean, but at least it had kept the mice that came out at night from climbing on them. Considering how little hard coin Ludovicus had remaining, that was all they'd been able to afford.

Their night out had been disappointing as well -- particularly from Giuseppe's Venitian-bred perspective -- for there was no wine available here. They'd been laughted at when they'd asked, and from what they could understand only the nobility and the very rich could afford wine. The rest of the people drank weak beer, seasoned with whatever herbs and spices they could afford. The resulting brew was bitter and gritty. The food, at least, had been reasonably good.

They'd almost missed their boat, too, for Giuseppe wasn't much of an early riser. The crew of the barge was already casting off its ropes when they'd boarded, to be immediately met by the 'captain' who'd demanded immediate payment for the trip. Ludovicus' purse was now very light indeed and the trip wasn't over yet. Their pack contained a little food -- hopefully they would be able to obtain some more along the river as the barge stopped at whatever city it crossed.

Ludovicus considers the options available to him and begins observing the crew. (How many are there?)

"Giuseppe? I have some questions for you. What do you think of our captain and crew? Are they decent folk? And you handled boats before, back in Venice, right? Do you think you could handle the one we are on now? Finally, did the captain say how many days our voyage would take?

There are five sturdy men handling the sail-less barge, using poles for the most part to push it upstream. For stretches of the river where the current are stronger, it seems that teams of oxen are available to help them move against that current. Overall, that makes for a rather rather slow mode of travel.

Giuseppe looks at the men as they work, thinking about how to answer his master. "Rough sort, but they look honest enough. I could handle that boat if we were moving downstream, but it takes a team to move it against the current." The grog squints,m trying to remember. "The captain -- if you can use that title for a thing like this -- said... about two weeks to a place called... Madburg? Or Magburg?"

"Two weeks?! I don't think our money will last that long, and then we will no longer be able to buy food. Maybe we can catch fish."

Ludovicus searches the barge for something from which to fashion a hook and for fishing line.

Nothing obvious is visible, but when Giuseppe goes to inquire with the bargemen, he is able to get them to lend him a line and hook. After much pantomine and explanations, he mentions to his master that the man said to wait until the evening to fish, to avoid the line becoming entangled with their pushing poles, or getting caught on the bottom and being lost.

Your first attempts are not very successful, as Giuseppe has no experience with this. But after Ludovicus takes over, teaching him a few tricks, you are able to catch a fish for the evening's meal. Giuseppe proves to be less than adept with the line, so Ludovicus takes care of it for the most part.

((A Survival score of 3 and he's never fished? Or is fishing considered Hunting? Also, what happens at night? I imagine the barge has to tie up along the shore to keep from drifting back downstream?))

(Sorry about that, forgot to check Ludovicus' abilities before writing this. I modified that post.)

(Thanks, and no problem.)

After the third day of nothing but fish, Ludovicus' stomach has had enough. He turns to Giuseppe, "Tonight, I request your company on a little excursion. When the barge has tied up for the day, we are going to go ashore to find other, land-derived things to eat. We will have to wait and see what the surroundings will provide us, but my hope is that we can forage some edibles from unoccupied land. I don't wish to go stealing from farmers or villagers; we will do so only as a last resort, after our money runs out and if we can't find anyone generous enough to feed a pair of poor and hungry strangers. Sound good?"

"Do you think we have chance of finding an inn around here? Or at least place to buy bread, perhaps? Don't mind the fish much, myself. Not enough to go hunt food around." As it happens, the barge has stopped near a village. Three of the bargemen seem to be going there to buy more supplies, while the other two remain behind to guard their livelihood with stout clubs.

"Very well. We can follow the bargemen to the village and find some food for purchase. But our funds are nearing their end, so we must be frugal and we must start looking out for more sources of food that we don't have to pay anything for. Fish can be fickle. And even you will surely tire of eating them after a few more days."

Ludovicus sets off toward the village at a brisk pace, after grabbing his satchel.

You are able to purchase some food in the village, although negociating proves quite difficult considering that neither you nor Giuseppe speak any German. And the villagers seem a bit suspicious of your foreign coins. Still, you leave the inn where you made your purchases with two loaves of bread, a wheel of hard cheese and a little dried meat, as well as an hearthen jug of watered ale. That unfortunately leaves you with only a handful of coins -- less than what you just spent.

The bargemen had brought bartering goods instead of coins, as is common for working men like them. Once their purchases are done, however, they settle at a table for some drinking instead of immediately returning to their barge.

The next day, in the middle of the afternoon as you sit on the barge, you catch sight of a horseman trotting on the dirt path that follows the river. Although you are too far away to clearly see his features, one thing catches your attention -- he is wearing a red cap upon his head.

Ludovicus taps Giuseppe on the arm and nods in the direction of the rider. "God may have sent us some good fortune, finally." Then he watches the rider intently, trying to determine if the barge gains ground on him, and for how far the path continues to follow the river.

The rider is travelling faster than the barge and soon disappears amongst the trees as the path moves away from the river.