Friday, October 23, 2015

Garan Fest Part 1

Every year the village of Garanton hosts a weeklong festival honoring the legendary hero for which it was named.  In keeping with Garan’s reputation as a heroic knight, young warrior from far and wide gather to prove their mettle in tests of strength, horse-riding competitions, and feats-of-arms.  The contenders and the gathered assembly feast together every evening and at the end of the festival, the champion is presented with Garan’s Mantle at a ceremony in front of Garan’s tomb.
This year has attracted several impressive new contenders including Sir Henry de la Reine Blanche, Vlad of Matopher Orchard, and Roquelle of Hommelet. Each of them acquitted him- or her- self well in the initial competitions.  Their companions Mark, McDowell, Dumitru, and Mihir cheered them on.

And yet, they and their friends have noticed something strange going on at this year’s festival.  Mark the Magician, though he had arrived in Garanton after a long journey from with southlands in the company of Sir Henry and Vlad, had no personal interest in martial endeavors.  He was not the only one.  Many were there for commercial reasons, or for the revelry, or, like the traveling minstrels, for some combination of the two.  But Mark noted one or two others whose dour demeanor masked what purpose they had in spectating at an event that seemed to give them no enjoyment.

One man who more than compensated for his lack of warriorly virtue with enthusiasm for the event and for Garan himself, was a local sculptor named Brant Arwell who had carved a monumental frieze of Garan’s face into the cliffs overlooking Garanton.  He was now looking for a new project and approached Sir Miles to request that he and his companions sit for a formal portrait.  They agreed and made plans to meet at the abbey the next day.

Strangely, Brant was nowhere to be found on the second day.  Friar Ulric, the head of the abbey explained that Brant had gone the previous evening to put the finishing touches on his sculpture and had probably overslept.  His most immediate concern was the killing of livestock at a local homestead, presumably by wild animals.  The party visited the homestead.  Oddly, it appeared that whatever had killed the cattle had not eaten much of them

The Friar encouraged the party—or the competing warriors at least—to focus on the day’s completion which involved crossing the nearby Barrow Creek by jumping from log to another.  Roquelle made the first crossing, but in the second crossing, not only fell off the log, but hit her head and became so disoriented that the creek’s current began to carry her away.  When she swam to safety on the marshy side of the creek opposite Garanton, she got a glimpse of a pig-faced creature in the reeds who snarled at her and then ran away.

After the completion, the party decided to go and look for the sculptor.  At the top of the cliff, above the carving, they found some ruins, and also an intact stone arch.  Some of the writing on the arch could be deciphered enough that Mark understood that it made reference to the light of the moon. 

Sure enough, when they returned that night when the moon was up, the arch was glowing—and they could hear a voice coming out of it.  Roquelle boldly walked through the archway hoping that she might be transported somewhere.  Nothing extraordinary happened to her, but McDowell noticed shadows emerging from the glowing surface of the arch itself.  

When these shadows took the form of fanged, flying monsters, the party attacked with arrows, hurled stones, and from the fingertips of Mark the Magician, “bolts of pure energy.”  One of these monsters descended on Roquelle, knocking her to the ground, and slashing her badly.  A second attacked Vlad, but was repelled by his armor.  A third was killed by missiles, and the fourth swooped down from the cliff, over the village and out of sight.  Sir Henry rushed to assist Roquelle while Vlad and his cousin Dumetru teamed up on the other shadow monster.  They were strange opponents—when Roquelle slashed one with her sword, it seemed to tear like fabric, its shadowy form becoming semi-transparent.  They were also fast and vicious.  When Vlad pinned one to the ground with his foot and raised his sword to slay it, the monster lashed him with its tail, raked his leg with its claw and flew back into the air—only to swoop down once more, fangs pointed at his face.  But the heroes prevailed and destroyed their enemies.

Mihir tended to his companion’s wounds—especially Roquelle who had been clawed and bitten multiple times.  There was a short debate on whether they should enter the arch, but the party decided instead to return to the village to warn the friars that at least one shadow monster was still on the loose.

The next morning, the party learned that more livestock had been killed and this time the farmers had seen the fiend responsible, a shadowy, fanged, flying creature.  The party of course was able to help the witnesses complete their description.