It is early morning in the quaint, seaside community of Sandpoint. The sun has just risen; its warm glow marking the first day of autumn. A gentle breeze carries with it the smell of the ocean, a whirl of leaves just beginning to tinge vibrant fall colors, and despite the early hour, the sounds of rejoicing.
It is finally the morning of the Swallowtail Festival. As you all know, this year's celebration is commemorating the loss of the cathedral to the goddess Desna in a fire that also tragically claimed the lives of Father Ezakien Tobyn and his adopted daughter, Nualia, five years ago, and its subsequent grand reconstruction.
The big day is finally here. The past year's work has drawn to a conclusion and today, the town of Sandpoint celebrates the reopening of its new Cathedral. You've been a part of its reconstruction, providing experience gained from your time near Korvosa under the tutelage of Callum Caverngas, your magical mentor.
You're standing near the stage, overseeing the final details of it and the podium - your contribution to today's festivities. Everything is going fine and a large crowd has already gathered. It's going to be a beautiful, relaxing day. The perfect exclamation point on the previous year.
Looking out over the crowd, you note the two Shoanti newcomers - both have been in town for only a few days. You've been meaning to introduce yourself, largely to discover if either had ever encountered giant attacks in their tribes or over the course of their journeys. Perhaps they will stick around and you can catch up with them later today.
Sunrise invaded your room at the Rusty Dragon Inn far too early this morning, in your opinion. You arrived late last night and managed to snag the inn's last free room, deciding that you should put off the inevitable "family meeting" as long as possible. Rising, you don your gear and head down to the great room of the tavern and inn to find it empty. It seems everyone has already headed to the town's square for the annual Swallowtail Festival. You know that this year's festival is going to be larger than previous years, and you're looking forward to not being forced to perform or participate in the various plays, speeches and ad hoc street performances of your youth.
You exit the inn and make the trek to the town square - perhaps the distraction of a festival will take your mind of the impending meet up with your family. On your way, you keep your cloak pulled high to keep a low profile. You don't run into a single soul.
By the time you arrive, the square is already full with people milling about, waiting for the festivities to begin.
You arrived in Sandpoint two days ago, but so far you've had very little success meeting with the town's influential leaders. They've all been busy preparing for today's Festival, and have promised to give you an audience after the festivities are complete. In the meantime, you've wandered the streets, taking in the small town and its sites.
You've been particularly drawn to the White Deer, a beautiful new tavern owned by Garridan Viskalai, a Shoanti whose parents were part of the Shriikirri-Quah (The Hawk Clan). Yesterday, he sat with you for hours, listening to your tales - he's confessed that he regrets his parent's choice to abandon the clan and settle in Sandpoint. And he's expressed frustration that his brother, Sandpoint's sheriff Belor Hemlock, has completely abandoned Shoanti tradition.
You made your way into town this morning, out of both curiosity and an internal sense of calling. It is a beautiful day and the energy in the crowd is boisterous and gay, but you are on alert - your internal voice is rarely wrong.
Arriving in the square you spot another Shoanti, marked by his tribal tattoos and tanned skin. You haven't met him yet, but perhaps there will be a chance once the festivities are underway.
You awake in your room at the Rusty Dragon Inn before the sun rises. You have agreed to help Savah Bevaniky, the owner of Savah's Armory, set up a small archery range this morning for today's festivities. Savah has become a friend and companion during your time here, often staying up in to the wee hours of the morning with you to share stories, eat the exotic foods the Kaijitu's are famous for, and drink the various spirits the inn offers.
Unfortunately, your sleeping hours are less enjoyable. You are haunted by dreams and visions of your tribe's attack. You awake often, anxious and sweating. You never forget why you have come to Sandpoint and your dedication to protect this community.
You arrive in the town square to find Savah's already arrived. You help her set everything up - a number of scarecrows painted with goblin faces, bales of hay and circular clay discs will serve as targets for those who want to take aim with a crossbow or short bow. The work is easy and Savah monopolizes the conversation, sharing her excitement about the coming festival activities.
After about an hour, the sun rises and the square begins to fill. There is a tangible feeling of excitement and joy in the air. You begin, for the first time since the attack, to relax and enjoy yourself a bit.
And so, you find yourselves in the town square in front of the magnificent basilica where a stage and podium have been erected amidst countless vendors’ tents and tables piled high with delicious pastries and tarts. Sitting and conversing quietly amongst themselves near the rear of the stage is a troupe of local notables.
An attractive woman with short auburn hair takes the podium. A hush falls on the crowd as she begins to speak.
"Greetings, friends! As most of you already know, my name is Kendra Deverin and I proudly serve as mayor of this great town. It is simply wonderful to see so many faces, both fresh and familiar, accompanying us on this fine day. To any first-time visitors in the audience this morning I wish to extend my personal welcome and hopes that you enjoy your stay here in Sandpoint. And to any of you that I see more regularly, thank you for taking time out of your busy lives to enjoy all of the attractions today's festival will have to offer. I think I even see Larz Rovanky has managed to tear himself away from his work at the tannery to join us. And to think that I often joked that I wondered what old Larz would be doing if he hadn't been spending all his time getting his hide tanned." Laughter erupts among the crowd and many eyes turn toward a serious looking man with a sour expression. Kendra pauses to wave at him with a warm smile before continuing. "Every citizen of this town has done their civic duty of keeping this community strong even in times of tragedy and for that you all have my thanks. I wish not to keep you any longer from the festivities. So without further ado, let me introduce someone who readily will. Belor, get up here. Sheriff Hemlock, everybody!"
After a round of applause a rather dour looking Shoanti man wearing an armored coat takes center stage and clears his throat after shaking hands with the mayor.
"Thank you, Mayor. Citizens! Even in the heat of celebration we would do well to remember the sad events that brought this day of merriment to us. And also let us not forget the poor souls that were lost but five years ago. I would like to invite you all to join me in a moment of silence to honor those lost on that fateful night. The sheriff lowers his head and most of the crowd joins him as he whispers prayers to Desna. There is an awkwardly long silence before he begins to speak once more. "In remembering, we don't allow mistakes to repeat themselves. I am of the understanding that there is a bonfire planned for this evening and I urge all of you, especially those with young children, to observe caution during this event. Please enjoy yourselves responsibly and know that my watch will never be more than a moment away." He pauses to briefly scan the crowd. "Cyrdak Drokkus, the proprietor of our local theatre would like a moment of your time before the celebrations get underway."
He gives a curt nod as the following applause is somewhat more muted than what Kendra had received and, unfazed, returns to his seat at the back of the stage, passing an older, brightly dressed man with a well groomed goatee who seems to be thoroughly enjoying the morning. As he reaches the podium he loosens his collar and winks to the crowd.
"Well, Sheriff, I think I speak for us all when I say thank you for that uplifting oratory. Now I know this town has been through some hard times, but just look at what we've accomplished." He flourishes toward the new cathedral. "And I'm telling you, as overseer of fundraising for the project, no expense was spared with this place. Solid stone and completely fireproof. Father Zantus' chamber pot? Solid gold! I kid you not. That is your taxes at work, ladies and gentlemen. Of course it was also financed by some very generous noble families. I think even the church actually chipped in a silver or two! Now that I have your attention I'd like to take the opportunity to invite everyone to come and see the Sandpoint Theatre Group's latest production: The Harpy's Curse, debuting in just two evenings. Our female lead, Avisera the harpy queen, will be played by none other than that famous Magnimarian diva just to my right, Allishanda. Isn't she a thing of beauty, gentlemen?" He raises an eyebrow at some whistles from the audience as he motions to a haughty looking Chelexian dressed in noble's garb who readily poses to be gawked at. "And now, for the moment I know you've all been waiting for, let me hear some applause for the highest of holiness himself, Father Zantus!"
The crowd cheers as Cyrdak motions to a surprisingly young man wearing the ceremonial robes of a priest of Desna. He smiles as he steps forward, noticeably abashed at the reception set up for him. He smiles and motions for the people to calm down, eventually beginning to speak.
"Thank you, Mr. Drokkus. Thank you, Sheriff. Mayor." He nods to each in turn. "Thank you, everyone, for taking me into your hearts and homes and letting me have the pleasure of becoming your new spiritual guide. I'll not bore you with another long speech, since you all appear to be eager to get to the celebrations. So, I officially declare the Swallowtail Festival underway! Please come see us here at noon for the climax of today's activities, the release of the swallowtail butterflies." He is drowned out by cheers before he even finishes the thought.
Within minutes the crowd descends in all directions. Criers call out advertising activities of all sorts. All around you are carnival games waiting to be played, veritable mountains of free food and sweets begging to be eaten, shady folks gathering at Harrow tables piled high with coins, painted up pretty boys and girls of the Pixie's Kitten Brothel wandering about, drinking contests starting despite the early hour, and more.
Each character will have time for exploring the town and participating in some activities before the Swallowtail Release at noon. Have fun!