After many adventures, we finally arrived at Dragon Rock. As we disembarked, I noticed streams of people moving rapidly towards the city, dressd in outlandish costumes and talking excitedly. I also noticed some bedraggled maskers stumbling to their ship and watched with great interest as a couple of Harbor Guards disgustedly confronted a drunken dwarf who was relieving himself against a ship. Yes, it was that time of year again—Wyrmfall.
Now I have nothing against Wyrmfall. Its a wonderful festival, full of music, color, art and drunken bonhomie. Every creature needs a respite from labor and every grown animal needs the chance (and for some the social permission) to play like a child. I enjoy watching Wyrmfall most certainly. My tiny garret in Karotown has a well-placed window with a wide ledge, permitting me an excellent view. But to get around in? (sniff) It’s most difficult. I try to avoid going out, laying in enough food, writing materials and scrolls to hold me for the length of the festival. Inevitably though, there’s something I forgot or run out of, necessitating a trip out into the streets.
I’ll wrap my tail about my waist (too many folk enjoy a playful tugging of my tail and greeting me with “Kitty, kitty, kitty”—usually gently done but I’ve suffered the occasional drunken, too-hard pull as well). When it’s children, I don’t mind much—kits are ever curious—so I’ll stop for a moment and let whatever small child fondle my tail a moment (and such a fine tail it is too, bushy and full with sleek light golden hair—All glory to the mighty Taanmrow!!) and answer their wide-eyed questions. But when I wrap my tail as a consequence I lose some of my balance, making navigation of a large crowd somewhat difficult. Moving through a Wyrmfall crowd feels like dancing with a clumsy partner. So I try to stick with balcony and rooftop travel during this time. Its less crowded, a good work out for me and no irritating “Kitty, kitty, kitty”.
We decided to stop by Lucille’s and then my place to check up on our things, then proceed to Lavinia’s for debriefing. On our way though, we noticed the dock inspector’s boy runner following us and conversing with a skeleton clad woman. Once we reached Lucille’s, Xrng, Ibid and myself parted from Lemmy, Violetta and Cazimir to go to my garret.
Suddenly, shots rang out and the crowd surged towards us. Xrng began to scramble up the wall while I unwound my tail and leapt for a balcony. The vertically challenged Ibid crouched down and stubbornly held his place against the fleeing crowd. Cazimir, Lemmy and Violetta were under attack from a pack of stilt walkers commanded by the skeleton we saw earlier. Ibid froze the skeleton woman, allowing Violetta to reveal her face and identify her as a Shadow Dancer. With one comrade dead and their leader neutralized, the other three stilt walkers tried to run, coming in our direction. Violetta summoned her monster dog, Henri, to chase down the stilt walkers. Ibid whipped up a very large batch of tomato sauce, covering the street and causing two of our attackers to fall. The third stumbled about desperately, trying to maintain his balance. He managed to grasp a balcony pole.
Now there’s a unique custom here in Dragon Rock that is part and parcel of the Wyrmfall Festival. It’s the annual custom of greasing the poles. The day before the actual festival is due to begin, the major guilds and city offices make a great ceremony of greasing their balcony poles. It prevents the foolhardy and drunken from climbing the poles, endagering themselves, the crowd and any who are on the balcony. Officials attend, tourists attend, even the People attend. The People then go home and grease their own poles as well, usually with old butter or rancid cooking oils, not the fancy, scented oils used by officialdom.
So the final stilt walker’s grab for safety led to a hilarious, slow-motion slide down the greased pole accompanied by frantic, confused clutching and wildly thrashing stilts. The stilt walker’s rear end hit the ground just as a shot rang out. The Shadow Walker slumped to the street dead as the City Guard flooded the street. The captain of the Guard identified the Shadow Walker as a notorious assassin called Diamondback.
As Cazimir smoothed things over with the Guard, I noticed Xrng suddenly running, apparently chasing what looked to be a half-Orc. I cast my message spell and alerted Violetta of the chase. After a few blocks, the half-Orc gave us the slip but left another corpse-message. Can’t these people just leave a simple scroll for the Gods’ sake? Pinned to a dead man in green was the message, “Things have changed. You are no longer welcome here.” I alerted Violetta and everyone showed up (City Guard included) a few minutes later.
Cazimir gasped when he saw the corpse. We have not been the only mercenary band working for Lavinia. She had also hired the Jade Ravens and the dead man in green had been their leader, Tolan Kientei. After requesting more security for Lavinia from the City Guard, Cazimir handed three vials found on Diamondback’s body to Xrng to examine and identify. Then he led us back into the crowds. Damn.
Violetta began piping a royal fanfare and Cazimir puffed out his chest and began waving to people regally. The crowd opened for us, standing back to see what spectacle we were to offer. Lemmy unsheathed his sword and began to wave it about in martial designs while uttering large, terrifying cries. I gave Xrng a quick nudge and motioned for her to display her attacks and defenses with her battle arms in a great show (the custom of Wyrmfall is unfamiliar to her—I explained later). Ibid began to juggle coins. I started to dash up and down our line, tail proudly unfurled and snapping with agitation as I made loud calls for order among our formation, acting as the Captain of the show. Sure enough, “Kitty, kitty, kitty.” I whipped around and found myself facing four Elves with drunken, friendly grins plastered to their faces. “You, good sirs, are out of order!” I blustered. “Step back and let the Krewe of Ol’ Peculiar pass!” Snorts and laughter came from the Elves and one tried to deliver a drunken bow of apology to me and fell face first into the gutter of the street. Considering them well-punished for messing with me, I turned back to my column with a haughty sniff. As we marched along, a New Year’s style Shou dragon fell into line with us so I extended my haranguing to them as well, switching between Common and Shou.
We finally reached the cross street needed to reach Lavinia’s and (as discreetly as possible) peeled off onto the side street, letting the parade to continue its course down the main street. I felt rather regretful. It was the only time I’ve actually taken part in Wyrmfall rather than just observing.