With the end of the Black Riders’ reign in the North, most of our party made for Enonia. Belaldur was bound to protect the Duke, after all. Fergus – with Willie and Josef in tow – Mazlor, Itsy, Toran, Pyrea, Creresai, and someone’s man Joffrey gathered with us to discuss things with Joran over lunch.
The worshippers of the old gods were planning a festival, followed by a celebratory march through to the center of town. The Enonia Temple of the Light was officially neutral, but the townsfolk were none too pleased. “The old gods have no power,” they jeered, but also: “We let them live and worship, just let them do it where we don’t have to see it!” “Why must they flaunt their wicked ways?” “Backsliders and heretics – nothing but trouble coming!” “Those old gods – demons more like! – brought the Doom upon us!”
The 21st day of Summer, the followers of Tangadorin and Vanir gathered on the street in front of Tangadorin’s Temple. Messha’s flock also was there, handing out flowers to all, and I spied Wikton from the South, who favored not Vanir, but some other blacksmith avatar. And Fergus revealed his affection for the old man we had met on the road, Almund, who he said was yet another god. Grel flew overhead on his magic horsey. Music played, flowers were woven into hair and pinned to tunics, banners were painted – and tables groaned with food and wine and beer flowed from kegs. Eventually, Joran imposed some order and the parade began.
The streets were lined with onlookers, some curious, some angry. Mazlor, I saw, spoke to a large group of them and led away perhaps three dozen. I kept pace with the parade behind the crowd. I watched for those most vehement against the old religions; while their attentions were thus diverted, I helped myself to a few purses.
The pagans reached the marketplace, many of them quite drunk – the kegs had come with them! A half dozen townsmen with cudgels stormed up, shouting “Just go! Your gods are not welcome, nor are you!” Some of the pagans were angry, too, but for a time Joran kept the peace. I continued to use the distractions to enrich myself.
And then the thugs swung their clubs at the Meesha worshippers, right by me. I knocked one back and intimidated him into flight. Fergus and Ceresei grappled another down. The town guard showed up, broke up the small fights around the square, and ordered the marchers to disperse.
After a little business and a snack with Seralno, I met my party at the Mug & Pot for dinner. Beladur had been seen on the rooftops during the parade (I must speak to him about hiding in shadows.). The Falcons had been seen, and most of the Heroes of the Duchy, protecting the pagans from attack. Not good, as we’d wanted to keep a low profile and deflect attention away from the pagans.
We were at the Mug & Pot not just for its fine victuals, but because the Duke’s Secretary had a room there. He’d arrived a few days before, to prepare for the Duke’s visit. We’d also taken a room there, as it happens just below his. I went to scout his room, found his door guarded inside and out. The Secretary was not in his room the whole night.
The next morning, Mazlor had a meeting and I was hungry. I went to Turgon’s Tasty Treats and bought half his stock for 30 gold. Turgon told me I should see the goblyns by Jakar’s Rest – they have become unworldly, lost their faces and their limbs gone gnarly and spindly. So I decided on a journey, Willie and Josef and Ceresei joining me.
Ours was a pleasant trip in the summer sun. The sweet smell of flowers wafted out to us as we approached. The goblyns – now eyeless, stoneless, barkskinned, almost trees – moved with the rhythms of the land through their garden of flowers, bees and butterflies dancing with them. The leader came to me, and I gave him the withered flowers in my hair from the parade the day before. He planted the flowers before the central tree in the garden, brought them back to life, then sat to meditate. Giddy with awe and joy, I danced back to my pony.
We headed then to Jakar’s Rest. It was midafternoon when we arrived, and I shared out Turgon’s baked goods among the villagers. Jakar’s glaive was covered in vines and flowers, so you can’t see the weapon. Same with the three columns of Meesha’s shrine. There’s been no trouble, no harassment here, and many from the village had gone to Enonia to dance and parade and enjoy the town. We’ll likely pass them on our way back tomorrow.