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Near the end of our kingmaker campaign, my character began doing small acts of kindness for the community surrounding his tower. This got out of hand and, in our setting, became the non-denominational holiday centered around the winter solstice. Here, for your enjoyment, I present the festival of Mishkalmas - a Golarion "Christmas".
In the newly created kingdom in the Stolen Lands a most curious holiday has taken hold. This holiday, called Mishkalmas, began shortly after the kingdom’s independence from Brevoy. At the time the kingdom was still quite poor and recovering from the events of the Nyrissa’s machinations as well as the Brevic civil war. It was precisely at this time that numerous reports surfaced of small acts of kindness performed or small gifts left anonymously around the winter solstice. As the story goes, many of these gifts were traced back to animals associated with the former court magister and hero, Zi Mishkal, who had recently withdrew into seclusion. Zi, a wizard by training, had taken a keen interest in the natural world and in the process attracted many exceptionally clever animals and creatures into his service. It is said that they acted as his eyes and ears throughout the kingdom and there was nothing which escaped his attention. And when he saw the people struggling he ordered the animals to help as best they could. Moreover, they say he could command many golems (perhaps hundreds) which he set to creating gifts for the people. From his hidden tower deep within the Tors of Levenies, he used his feathered subjects to ferry these gifts out to the countryside.
The people show their thanks for Zi Mishkal’s generosity by hanging bird feeders out in the days before Mishkalmas. On the morning after Mishkalmas children scrutinize these feeders closely. If tracks are present or the food is eaten, it means that the winged servants of Mishkal have been by and left a small present for them.
In more recent years, this feast has become more prolific throughout the kingdom. A large dinner is celebrated the night of Mishkalmas. There is frequently dancing and music as well. Hunting occurs very sparingly the weeks before, out of concern that one of Mishkal’s animals would be accidentally slaughtered. Moreover, there is a general increase in respect for wildlife and nature during the winter months thanks to observance of Mishkalmas.
The Actual Story
Mishkalmas started as a single year. The wizard Zi Mishkal, in addition to his other duties, managed a successful inn called “The Towering Pint” (so called because his tower was located just behind the inn) along the east-west road. Thanks to the protection afforded by the tower, a small hamlet sprang up around the inn. That first winter of independence was particularly harsh, and throughout the winter Zi made frequent trips into the town and surrounding farms, solving problems and helping the people. On the winter solstice, he conjured up a Magnificent Mansion to feed and warm the townsfolk. Because of all this, no one died that winter.
The next winter was quite mild. However, over the course of the summer, word had spread into the surrounding communities about Zi’s generosity, and he found himself overwhelmed with requests. While he was able to accommodate many of them within the surrounding communities and was also able to throw and even grander feast with two Magnificent Mansions he found himself unable to keep up with the increasing amount of requests.
The following summer, realizing that the upcoming winter would be even worse, he sold the tower and relocated his home deep in the Tors of Levenies. It is true that he had awakened several normal animals and kept them as messengers and scouts for the kingdom. These animals increasingly spoke of the sadness in the communities he had vacated as the solstice approached and the harsh winter returned. Realizing that something would need to be done, he spent a considerable fortune to purchase basic necessities. In many cases it was food - perhaps a duck or some apples. But in other cases it was some other object - a plow for a farmer, perhaps, or some new needles for a weaver. To deliver these, he called upon the awakened animals to concentrate on the towns in and around the Towering Pint. For some of his closest friends he delivered these gifts in person, subtly suggesting that they continue the tradition amongst themselves.
In the years following, he would occasionally make appearances or have animals deliver presents, even though the populace took over most of the gift giving and feasting responsibilities themselves. Young children do not mark the difference between the rare occasion when a gift is delivered by an actual servant of Mishkal and when it is delivered by a friend or family member. Adults understand and keep the tradition alive. Most adults in the Stolen lands are likely to receive a gift directly from Zi Mishkal once in their lives, although recently it has become difficult to determine even that as anonymous gifts from admirers sometimes show up on Mishkalmas morning.
|Lord Foul II|