A century ago, Marilinev was a flourishing trade village of 500 residents and the chief port of the Traladaran civilization. After Traladara was conquered and claimed as a protectorate by the Empire of Thyatis, it was renamed Specularum (“The Mirror City”) after the reflective quality of its sheltered bay. Over time, the population grew and city walls were erected. Now, under the rule of Duke Stefan Karameikos III, Specularum is a crowded city of over 50,000 residents of Traladaran and Thyatian decent. It is here, on crowded, dirty, narrow streets, that fate will bring together six young strangers who will set in motion events that will change the course of history.
* * * * *
On the morning of the sixth day of his walk Maruc spied the outskirts of the city he was more weary than hopeful. What astonished him more than anything else was the noise. The cloister was deathly quiet and his journey was solitary. However the city shouted its existence to the skies. The gates where open and people in colorful robes bustled about in gay abandon. Maruc couldn’t help a smile creep across his face as he watched the pantomime of city life unfold before him.
Unsure of watch the gate guards would ask of him as he approached, he paused expecting to be questioned. However nothing happened, so not tarrying overlong he marched with purpose through the gates. Maruc thought a purposeful man would be less likely to be troubled than anyone else.
What manner of people conducted themselves like this? Thought Maruc. There must be no restraint here. Indeed if Lord Stefan dwelt amongst such folk no wonder he does not know himself. How anyone is to achieve quiet meditation in this throng is beyond anyones guess…
* * * * *
Counting them a second time, just to be certain, Miklos once again wondered what he would do once his small stash of coins emptied. After all, he couldn’t go running home anymore–not for a year, anyway–he was supposed to be self-reliant, after all.
Fortunately, they would last for a while, and and were certainly more than enough to enjoy himself for the duration of the festival. In fact, he rather looked forward to meeting up with Gregor for a pint or two that evening… and looking at the sun, he’d better get moving. Wouldn’t want to keep his friend waiting! Miklos broke into a run, hoping he’d make it to the Roaring Lion in time.
* * * * *
Hmm… A day in Specularum. What to do?
First, some fresh water and bread to take the edge off the hangover. What was that rotten Hin spirit he’d been drinking last night?
Then a walk through town. Try and find an honest day’s work. Too late to try the market. Maybe the docks, or a tavern.
He walks east towards the docks, and comes upon a crowd of people. So tempting, so many people obviously straining to see some religious procession or other.
Some hero priest called Lucor. It rings a bell from somewhere, but it’s been so long since Nicolao had been to church that he really could not remember.
But the temptation of so many easy marks. Looking round he saw three other dippers working the crowds. He’d heard rumours of the guilds in Specularum. The Kingdom, now he’d be probably be allowed to join if they caught him on their territory. The Veiled might let him join, or they might dump his body in the harbour. The Iron Ring. Now there was a reason to be afraid. Tales of slavery and the Black Eagle reached even Fogor Isle.
No. He wasn’t going to take any marks until he’d at least worked out who ran which area. That meant an honest days work. Down to the docks then.
* * * * *
The gate is open. A few soldiers with spears lounge near the entrance. They wear tabards of red and blue with a device of a ship on the front. The narrow muddy streets are choked with people. Most dress in their best clothes and many wear brightly-colored outfits. Jugglers and fire-eaters are scattered throughout the crowd. The noise from whistles, drums, singing, and happy chatter make normal talk difficult. People jostle each other, straining for a look at acrobats, knife-throwers, dancing bears and minstrels. The smells of sewage, grilled meats, breads, sweat and wine mingle in a strange but inoffensive order. This is the Festival of Lucor, a religious celebration honoring a legendary local cleric named Lucor.
Suddenly, the crowd sways to the sides of the street. “The procession is coming!” shouts a young boy. The music fades and changes to bells and chanting. Statues carried by several men seem to float above the heads of the crowd. A sedan chair, borne on the shoulders of clerics, follows.
Saeth glances up toward the street, but the swarming mass of commoners blocks her view. With a shrug, she leans back agains the wall and takes another bite of her grilled corn. She didn’t even know who this Lucor guy was, so how exciting could his procession be? And where did that juggler from a minute ago disappear to?
People jolted and bustled into each other, and Maruc, as he elbowed his way through the press of humanity and to his surprise – inhumanity. (If that is the right way to address elves, dwarves and suchlike). Maruc had never been in contact with anyone else other than humankind. In away he was quiet looking forward to meeting, and talking to, a Dwarf, or maybe an Elf. Maruc wondered which Immortal shepherded folk of such strange ancestry, surely they believed as he believed? But he wasn’t so foolish as to hope for that. Perhaps they were Godless? Maruc had never been racist between those of Traladaran and Thyatian decent so he wasn’t about to start being inter-racist. Here and there in the throng he spotted non-humans, but he didn’t get much opportunity to stare. There was music, shouting and people praising Lucor. Who was Lucor? A local hero or dignitary? No matter, but wait. Maruc instantly recognised the robes of the clerics coming down the street. Those pedlar’s in the easy answers to the real truth, pale followers of the stayed Traladaran clerical tradition selling false tales to the uneducated populous. They do not understand what Stefan will become! Soon they will be shown for their misguided faith…now is not the time though.
Through the procession, interesting as it was to watch the humans worship, Feldard found himself watching little more than a field of waistcoats and waggling sashes and ornimental belts. He found himself caught in a human current, swept along through the streets, able to smell food that smelled quite passable for foreign food but was quite impossible to get to. Finally in fury he found himself climbing to the top of a rainbarrel, his head breeching the crowd with a roar of satisfaction. Hardly anyone noticed–there was a good deal of roaring. At least he could see the swordeaters.
The procession stops. Something is happening at its front. Three men are arguing. A general hush falls over the crowd as everyone moves back from the procession. Two men, one small, plump, and pockmarked and the other tall and lean, are arguing with the lead bearer of the sedan chair.
Angrily, the small, plump man says to the lead bearer, “Bald-headed fool, do you Torenescu think you own the street? There’s space for all of us, without your ape-like behavior!”
The lead bearer contemptuously waves a rod in the small man’s face. “Out of the way of the Procession of Lucor, Radu rubble!”
Saeth the elf stands in a flash. How exciting could this procession be? She might not know who Lucor was, let alone Radu, but this sounded like it could be far fairer sport than bearbaiting or any of the other cruel games from this morning. Dropping the half-eaten corncob, she squeezes through the crowd, ducking around people and under arms, seeking a front row view of the coming confrontation.
The tall, lean man spitting on the statue of Lucor says “That old fool? You make me laugh!”
The lead bearer strikes the tall man, knocking him down. The smaller man tenses ready to lunge.
(DM Note: The characters happen to be in the crowd while this is occuring. At this point it is not required that they interact with what’s going on. It’s up to you players.)