The champions arrive…
It was an interesting turnout for the opening feast. Nobles and heroes from Anuire and beyond made their way to the Free City with tales to tell of the challenges faced even before their arrival.
Those who arrived by ship seemed to face extra challenges. The pride of Aerenwe’s fleet arrived carrying several dignitaries of note: the Black Baroness Talia Roesone, her cousin the Horned King Caliborn, the contested Duke William Moergen of Osoerede, accompanied by the mysterious Swamp Mage Erander, and of course the Swordwraith herself. Also traveling up from the Straits of Aerele came a ship from far off Sauken, carrying a pair of mysterious black knights from Aduria, Nickoli and the Skull Knight (as well as the Skull Knight’s less mysterious brother, Luxu). Both companies had been held up by the Sea Drake’s blockade of the Imperial City; both had payed his price and been allowed passage, remarking with surprise his civility and insistence it was simply a “toll” for his protection from pirates.
The Black Rock Traders arrival from the north faced no such hassles. No, they brought their excitement with them. Flush from their treacherous victory over the Warlord Drago the Unblinking off in Caerele, Ebon Pete Leroy and his new associate Rusgor Garlmange arrived with mercenaries rich with loot looking to party.
Other lords and heroes arrived by land: the Patriarch of Elinie, Malik ibn Douta; the Hirophant of the Life and Protection of Avanalae, Lady Mehdlorie “Goldeneyes” Hansien; the mourning Duke Shaemes Alam and his declared rival Duke Tangaroa Tuornen; the slippery Baron Kason Mierelen of Brosegnae; the self-styled “Prince of Cats” Duke Israphel Diem. These " Gorgon’s Orphans, " as some like to call them, quickly banded together to make each-others acquaintances, plot, play games, argue, sing songs, proclaim their ancestral rivalries and otherwise hobnob with their peers.
Of no less interest were some of the other guests: the mysterious Knight of the Blemished Shield, the equally strange Green Knight, the Khanazi Princess Kalilah Shadam, the Adurian Knight Sir Alistar Creyrynder of Ashiera’s Oasis, Baronet Arlen Treyneir of Tireste, Baroness Keyrie Felfader of Caulnor, Lady Marya Nikosdottar of Soliette, the adventurer Bram Holdenheyrd, his ever-present companion Jerrick Skalden the Bard, and the Grand Vizier of the Royal Academy of Sorcery Boden Stormwatcher.
A fly in the soup attracts spiders, and cats…
As everyone settles in for a long night of revelry, their mysterious masked host Guilder Shade takes many private meetings. His is not the only ear bent as many other regents circulate, mixing business with pleasure. None are louder or more insistent than Duke Alam’s outspoken hostility of Tuornen and their regent, grasping at any excuse for a fight. Far more peaceful were the discussions around the Black Baroness’s “babies,” a small horde of cats, and their surprising affection for Duke Israphel (hinting that, just as old alliances in the south fail, new ones are in the offing). William Moergen and his associate Erander did their best to make friends who could aid in their ongoing fight against the Usurper Jason Raenich, while Luxu sung songs to entertain the company.
The good mood was somewhat dampened when several threats about killing cats were made if they kept getting underfoot in the kitchen. The felines were getting the blame for a host of mishaps relating to the hogs being overdone, or underdone (though the Green Knight seemed happy with the fare). The blame was not so easily shifted onto the cats when people began complaining about the ale tasting of piss, or the cakes having been baked with salt but no sugar. Prompt investigation by Guilder Shade’s internal security caught several recent hires who’d been bribed to muck with the food preparation, but the source of the plot has yet to be caught.
The quality of the feast was fast forgot in the face of another hazard though, when many of the guests grew concerned over the number of spiders lurking about (some of particularly alarming size). The growing upset bemused the Green Knight, who finally removed his helm to reveal himself as a great hairy Goblin and the Spider’s Emissary. Laughing, he gave them word from his master: “My lord reminds you of the massacre even now going on in Caeril. He demands 10 gold bars from our host, and gives similar recommendations of tribute to his guests, lest the Spider turns his eye in their direction and seeks to visit them next.” Bravado became the answer of the day, as many agreed the Spider’s demands were far too much. The Green Knight merely grinned at their haughty refusals. In any event, he agreed he would still see them on the tourney field the following day…