N.S. Thursday, October 9, 1631 / O.S. Thursday, September 29, 1631
It is January 25, 1611, and Gasparo di Mercurio is waiting in a small tavern in Würzburg at the request of his friend, Cassius Adamoli. Soon, a well-dressed man with piercing eyes enters and asks Gasparo if he is, indeed, Gasparo. He indicates he is a friend of Cassius.
Gasparo bids him to sit and they drink while the man explains that he has a job for Gasparo. He indicates that he wishes for Gasparo to warn some people of coming danger — they were also performing a task for this man, but will subsequently find themselves in danger. Gasparo’s job is to travel to the town in which they will find themselves, determine the problems in town, and then tell them about it. For his services, the man will pay Gasparo fifty ducats, and he will likely make more by aiding these people, as they are quite wealthy.
Gasparo takes the afternoon to contemplate his options. After drafting an astrology chart, Gasparo decides that this is a decent idea and meets the man outside the tavern. He find the man sitting upon a barrel and smoking a pipe. When Gasparo arrives, the man gives him a pouch of coins — Venetian ducats, as promised. He then reveals a little more information — the people he needs to save are roughly twenty years from now, in the nearby town of Thüngen. Gasparo is intrigued, and still agrees. The man sticks a long-handled match into his pipe, and uncorks the side of the barrel, giving Gasparo a brief moment to realize the barrel is stuffed with powder. As Gasparo starts to flee, the man sticks the match in the side, causing the explosion.
Gasparo awakens, sitting bolt upright in bed. He immediately checks and finds the pouch of ducats to still be in his robes. He then takes stock of his surroundings, finding that he is in a small inn room. He spots the man sitting in a corner.
The man explains that he is now in Thüngen, twenty years in the future. A war between Protestants and Catholics is raging across the Holy Roman Empire, and the Swedish army is about to steamroll through the area in roughly a week. Once they have passed, the spell will reverse itself and Gasparo will return to 1611.
Gasparo then offers to buy the man a drink, hoping to get him drunk and divulge his secrets. He is not quite successful, and the man leaves after a couple of beers.
Gasparo stays in the inn, ordering drinks and talking to the barmaid until she finally lets slip that the town has been overtaken by bandits. They have the town’s children locked in a barn and will torch it if anyone tries to approach it or otherwise causes any trouble.
After seeing a rough-and-tumble man in the inn, he decides to retire to his room, requesting one with a window so that he can watch for the group of five individuals described by the strange man. He then dozes throughout the day so that he can watch during the night.
Meanwhile, Goffhilf, Maksymilian (and his man, Aleksy), Mannfried Orben, and Ross are wandering through the brush, picking their way back to the town they passed earlier in the evening. As they approach the low wall surrounding the town, they decide to camp outside the town during the night and wait for daylight.
During the night, while Maksymilian takes watch with Aleksy, he is surprised as a crossbow bolt embeds itself in his torso. He has enough time to dimly register the bolt before the shock drives him into unconsciousness.
The rest of the group is awakened by bandits demanding the group’s money. Aleksy, following the last order given by Maksymilian, vainly attempts to awaken him. The rest of the group, following the bandits’ instructions, begins rising and stepping away from their packs.
Goffhilf takes the opportunity to manipulate his flesh, leaping into the fray such that the ensuing volley of crossbow bolts proceeds to mostly pass through him. In the confusion, the rest of the group rearms itself and begins fighting against the bandits. However, the bandits quickly recover from their shock at Goffhilf’s sorcery, and begin fighting back. As the tide of battle appears to be turning against the group, Goffhilf leaps forward to heal Maksymilian, returning him to consciousness. He orders Aleksy to begin attacking one of the bandits, but he lunges at the bandit and misses. In return, the bandit impales him on his sword — and at the spray of gears and lubricant that ensues, the bandits panic and flee.
Maksymilian gathers Aleksy’s heart and leaves the rest of the clockwork behind. Feeling exposed and seeking shelter, the group decides to sneak into the town.
As the travelers pick their way through the deserted alleys, they hear a sound from above. It sounds as if someone attempted to gain their attention. The travelers look to see an open window, evidently on the upper story of an inn, and a figure ducking just out of sight. Maksymilian boosts Ross up so that he can investigate. He sees an aged man with a great beard, in robes. After determining that the man is no threat, and appears to wish to speak with the group, they clambor into his room one by one.
Introductions are made, and the man introduces himself as Gasparo di Mercurio. To his shock, nobody in the group recognizes the name. Gasparo seems surprised that there are only four travelers, apparently expecting five. He indicates that he was sent to warn the travelers about the bandits in town — a fact with which they are now well-acquainted. After talking, Ross surmises (and confirms) that Gasparo was sent by Tiedemann Fürst, as they all were. Gasparo further indicates that the bandits are now controlling the town by holding the town’s children hostage, and that this group is apparently meant to survive these events for some greater purpose.
With many of the travelers wounded and hardly in much condition to travel, and with their labors complete, the travelers decide to hide out in the inn for the week until the spell sends them back to 1611.
Despite the cramped room, the days pass quietly and without incident. It seems probable that the innkeepers have some knowledge of the proceedings, but generous tips from Gasparo seem to allay any concerns the proprietors may have.
It is October 12 when a knock comes at Gasparo’s door in the late morning. The man is decently dressed, but his features are marred by an extremely recent scar across his face and mouth, giving him the appearance of a rather lopsided cleft palate. Gasparo notes a second man in the hallway. The scarred man asks Gasparo to search his room, and Gasparo plays the part of the doddering old man before loudly warning that he is going to open the door. He swings the door open and falls to the ground, revealing the other four travelers, armed and waiting.
The scarred man — whom no doubt received his scar from Goffhilf’s dagger a couple of nights ago — draws his sword while the group shoots at him with crossbows. Although he is not hit, he is quickly felled by Goffhilf, Gasparo, and Maksymilian. He does, however, shout warning before he falls, allowing the man in the hallway to dash into the fray, and apparently shout warning to more men downstairs.
As the second man falls, Goffhilf and Ross make their way to the stairs to stand against the bandits rushing up the stairs. Maksymilian rushes after them while Mannfried grabs his lightning rod and Gasparo begins gutting one of the corpses in the hopes that he can distract the bandits by throwing organs at them. His plan backfires when some organ lands underneath Goffhilf’s foot, sending him tumbling down the stairs. He loses consciousness, but takes two bandits down with him. The other four are swiftly killed by the application of Mannfried’s lightning rod.
Of the remaining bandits, one flees, and the other is quickly dispatched by Maksymilian.
The group quickly sets to work searching and barricading the inn. It appears as though the inn was searched somewhat at random, likely by the bandits. The travelers find their money, and reclaim it, with Gasparo leaving some shards of the enormous ruby as compensation. The travelers also arm themselves with crossbows and leather armor.
Deciding that the bandits will likely seek them, and will probably torch the inn to bring them out, the travelers decide to flee the inn and leave Thüngen.