Bromin and Tavion both compete while Tyrandriel and Gaemund make coin by racketeering the spectators. Tavion does surprisingly well but Bromin wins.
Farmer Gern’s hog loomed massively over the rest of the competition, but when it came time to weigh the hogs, Gern’s sow was larger than it was heavy. Turns out the man misunderstood the rules of the contest and had been feeding his sow beans. The crowd laughs and boos, and as punishment the judge makes Gern grab that pigs tail while she presses on its stomach. The relentless and hideous fart reduces the pig’s diameter significantly and leaves Gern gagging. Farmer Dinkle’s sow takes the prize.
Bromin met Tilro Farraud, who expressed familiarity with the plight of the Firebeard Clan. “A terrible omen, for the volcano to go quiet. If the old gods can die, what does that say about the rest of us?” Tilro was very proud of his clan’s history—protecting the corpse of King Geirr during the war against the Huldra—and took poorly to Bromin’s disregard for his family’s beliefs. “Our duty is with our people. Wherever they are, that’s where we belong.” Bromin also discovered that the Farraud clan always enters their own ale into the brewing contest—not to win, but simply to add to the festivities, as a gesture of hospitality and mutual friendship.
THE SECOND DAY
Several members of the party participated in the traditional Pig Wrestling. A single pig was covered in grease and set loose in a pen. There was a brief controversy as the original chosen pig was actually a rare, sweet smelling floral pig and far too expensive to be used for such a contest—indeed, Lord Mayor Loxias’ wife nearly battered him for abuse of the sweet creature. Instead, they went with Butters the pig, who caused a great mess and got grease on Morel’s clothes in particular. The Lord Mayor sends his apologies. Fortunately, he won!
In the vicinity of the pig wrestling, the party heard a hubbub caused by one Yvain Ponty, a local farmer, touting his Oakstump Brew. The party asked nearby townsfolk about this man and learned that he’s never tried his hand at brewing before, but after meeting a modicum of success as a farmer he’d come up with a fairly large batch. Nothing he said really indicated that he knew what he’s talking about, and his neighbors described him as a serial dabbler.
- “The malt is from my very own fields! Wheat I raised myself and watered just a mite extra. The lands of my farm are positioned PERFECTLY to catch the sun as it breaks around the bulwarks of our town, lending their might and potency to my brew!”
- “I cannot share my gruit of course—that would give away my secrets! But there’s a bit of bog myrtle, some honey, yarrow, a blossom or two…”
- “Every oak tree I’ve found I’ve cut down and hollowed out the stump, Once I seal the brew in there to ferment, the oak wood mellows the secret ingredients I add, making them not only palatable, but delightful beyond comprehension!”
Since the success of their endeavor depended on winning the brewing competition, members of the party quietly threatened and extorted Yvain to throw the contest. Their efforts paid off not immediately, but further down the line.
As the day wound down, Gaemund tracked his brother to the alleyway outside of a tavern. Frederic was still recovering from his injuries when he met a mysterious robed figure who spoke in a sibilant voice.
“The whole reason I’m helping you is for the sake of my family. There’s still not a word about my mother. Excuse if I’m not raring and enthusiastic right now.”
“Until your mother returns, your family needs you more now than ever. You must help us, and we can assure your brothers’ future.”
“What, by spying on some strange girl in the tavern?”
“She is a lackey of foreign powers, and thwarting her will reward you greatly."
“Fine, fine. Don’t forget, you’ve promised me a business for EACH of my siblings. Enough to get our lives back on track. What do you want me to do?”
“Stay close and watch the inn. When their guard is down, search through her things. Above all else, look for…That is the key to your future. And trust no one else.”
Nashia Arie recognized the hissing voice as the sign of the Dragonborn, denizens of the distant empire of Elam. What could agents of that land be doing here, and what did they have to do with Gaemund’s brother?
THE THIRD DAY
Jugglers, singers, poets and playwrights gathered in the town squares of Calchester for the third day of the celebration. Poets recounted the song of the Man in the Moon, but of particular note were the comedic stylings of Tilly Carosi, a musician and storyteller. She performed a work of her own composition, The Donkey’s Song, , which was definitely NOT a series of insults aimed at Baron Yorlen. It seemed to Tyrandriel that Tilly had her eyes on him, and he was not wrong—they shared a common faith in the mysterious Laughing God. She promised to speak with him later on a matter of great import.
Many of the other plays and performances of the day were morality plays, retellings of the tale of Patient Father and Fearless Mother. Others were the cautionary play, the Shepherd and the Huldra, the bombastic Clouds Come to Earth, and raunchier fare—a bit about a milkmaid who cheats on her husband by claiming to be a forest spirit drew great laughter from the crowds.
Afterwards, Tilly revealed to the party that she had been keeping an eye on the wayward Sons of Arcistroth, for ill fortune follows their wake. It seems that Frederic has fallen in with agents of Borgondhi and perhaps of something even more sinister. Tilly gave them the location of a hunting lodge in the woods, abandoned for many years, that recently showed signs of habitation. Though Frederic had never been there, she suspected the strangers he was meeting were holed up there.
And it was none too soon, for that very night…
THE FOURTH DAY
…Nashia woke to find her Dragon Scroll missing! She had yet to speak to any of her compatriots about the contents or import of the scroll, but insisted that it had to be recovered. Gaemund agreed, but only if Nashia would reveal the truth about her scroll—if the party was to risk their lives for it, he felt they deserved her trust. They set out to the woods to confront the thieves.
With a burst of magic and bladework, the party stormed the hunting lodge. Over a dozen thugs and bandits held the perimeter, led by a dragonborn sorceress — Kava of House Bothotlo. The heroes scattered and slew her hired men, all of them paid with the coin of House Borgondhi. As for Kava herself, they pried the scroll from her claws and demanded to know what she wanted it for. “The Future,” she hissed, “of the Empire.”
Back in town, Nashia admitted to the party that the scroll was the original copy of the Prophecy of the New Day, written by Taras Halfdragon himself after the War of the Four Winds concluded.
That night Yvain showed up once more to promote his brew. Under duress from Gaemund and Bromin, he decided to give it all away and not participate in the competition the following day at all.
(They also drank a lot and drained some of his kegs as well)
THE FINAL DAY
At long last, the day of the feast arrived. Bakers and butchers brought their finest fares to the table, and Ursi Arcistoth herself opened her coffers to sponsor the eating and drinking. Shepherd’s pies, breads, buns with frosting and all manner of country delicacies graced the tables. Music and drunken cheers resounded off the cobblestone streets. At long last, the Lady Knight tried all the brews presented by the artisans of Calchester, and Bromin and Morel’s work triumphed! The heroes presented themselves to the irascible Lady of Calchester and requested their boon: access to the Mordavian Transcripts from her library. Surprised and displeased by the request, she nontheless granted them their wish.
As they walked up the hill to Arcistoth Keep, Bromin happened to notice the discarded kegs that Yvain Ponty had stowed. The farmer never brewed anything in the first place—he’d purchased it all from a mysterious salesman traveling through town. It bore a familiar symbol—the same that Bromin used to mark the ale (continued)