Wolves Midsummer Festival 1099
A Hart’s View, by Lord Ranulf Farendon
A small party of Harts attended the recent Wolves Midsummer festival in Norsca. In typical Norscan defiance of the White Hand it was decided to hold the festival, and King Gunnar’s wedding, in the newly rebuilt town of Silverdale, 35 miles from the war’s front line.
We arrived late on Friday via transport circle outside of Silverdale and setup camp amongst the Wolves already present. Those attending from Albion were Lord Hugo, Benedict Karlennon, Frederick Charenten, William Penhaligon, Leri Penhaligon and her betrothed Heinrich Von Alfeld, Kelvin, Var, Jharik, Harry the Red, myself and Constance, my wife (representing the Bard’s Guild). Among the other notable guests was a contingent of Vipers, King Gustav the Darkest Lord, his daughter Marley and Kaylarin of the Melnibonians.
The Wolves were present in force and included most of the court, with Guiliano looking his usual resplendent and ostentatious best, and even Klaus took a break from the front to turn up sporting a dashing black gambeson. Guiliano had arranged with a local troop of gypsies to provide entertainment that evening. Around the campfire in the forest King Gunnar’s stag night proceeded apace with singing, dancing and storytelling. Several highlights included a drinking contest between Gunnar and his best man Guiliano, which despite Guiliano’s best efforts resulted in a draw when both collapsed. Notwithstanding the groom’s presence the party continued long into the night, marred only by a vampire roaming the woods and an appearance by fire demons.
Saturday started slowly with most people late to rise due to the previous nights carousing. While the Wolves busied themselves, the Harts mainly took the opportunity for a little R&R and enjoyed the unseasonably warm Norscan weather. Later in the afternoon after Gunnar and Guiliano finally surfaced, still hungover, a test of arms was arranged. Teams of four competed to find the best to take on Gunnar and the royal household. The Hart’s team of Hugo, Benedict, Var and myself acquitted ourselves well but were defeated in the second round by a finer team (although Hugo please next time remember to parry!). Finally a team was chosen and faced the royal household – Gunnar, Klaus (in human form), Guiliano and Robin. A fine and evenly balanced fight ensued although some noted the odds seemed a little strange with Guiliano bravely defending the rear from behind Robin. However Robin more than made up for Guiliano’s reluctance to actually join the fight (a cheer did erupt after half way through the fight when he finally swung a blow and an even louder cheer when one landed). Good-natured heckling and only three active fighters did not prevent Gunnar’s team from taking down all four opposition without loss.
As usual trouble wasn’t far away and White Hand forces kidnapped a small group keeping watch on the transport circle. A rescue was immediately organised and the enemy was traced to Ravensdark. King Gunnar led the initial troops through to the Ravensdark circle, where it was obvious that the fight between the White Hand and the people of Ravensdark was balanced on a knife-edge, each taking and holding the circle of a short period of time. The fight started badly for our forces with the White Hand, accompanied by Caldelfar, hitting our people with repeated sleep and mage bolt spells. Fortunately a second wave from Silverdale transported in and helped turn the tide. The two kidnapped victims were retrieved, however a sudden turn in luck and the arrival of more enemy forces forced a rapid withdrawal and in the confusion three people were left behind in enemy hands – Jihad, Stumpy and Tunar of the Wolves.
The Hart’s did not escape without loss. Var reported Benedict had fallen and been taken by the White Hand. In a daring act of bravery, Var managed to infiltrate behind enemy lines, find Benedict and release him. Together they had escaped but got split in the woods. Var made it to the circle but Benedict was left behind, despite the last group out leaving it as long as they could.
A small standing force was left to keep an eye on the circle at Silverdale to ward against them following us, since it was obvious a second rescue attempt was out of the question. Scouts had spotted at least 80 enemy surrounding the ritual circle before the last of our forces evacuated and more waves behind them. For now Ravensdark was lost.
Later Benedict appeared alone in the Silverdale circle, confusing many as to how he got there since Benedict was unable to use a ritual circle and the nearest one to Ravensdark was 35 miles by boat. It appears that he had hidden in the woods after the White Hand overwhelmed the transport circle but was found by a band of Storm Ravens (natives of Ravensdark). The Storm Ravens had driven the White Hand from the circle and transported Benedict back.
With evening descending most drifted back to their tents to get ready for the masked ball, a prelude to Gunnar’s wedding that night. More guests arrived by transport, including Queen Elspeth. All were dressed in their finest outfits and disguised by lavish and beautiful masks. Feathers seemed to be in on many masks, with peacock and ostrich amongst others.
It would be hard to pick out individuals but among those I personally admired was the lovely Maeve sporting a brilliant cream trousers and tunic outfit, and a stunning white mask with a surround of white and pink feathers. Kaylarin was wearing a striking red dress and what was probably the best mask of the night in enormous red and black feathers curled back around her head. The Lady Serafiya had probably the biggest dress, wearing an off the shoulder hooped number, in black and gold lace. Var caused the biggest stir in an astonishing transformation he shirked off his usual beastman furs and donned a stylish court outfit, accompanied by a mask that covered most of his face and Raphael di Medici’s renown black hat with its yellow and black feathers. While many figured it wasn’t Raphael, most could not figure who it was. Var smiling (and so revealing his teeth) only caused more consternation, and some disquiet. However in my opinion the dress of the whole event had to have been that of Magdelathanas Starbreeze (Mags), the Light Mage. A gorgeous dress with a cream bodice, embroidered with fine gold thread, while the rest of the gown was in pale gold – delicate and stylish. Yet again she managed to capture the element of which she is master, in the appearance of her gown.
As it turned out there was a deeper reason behind the party. A group was attempting to release the souls of the first-born trapped by the Tunguska Curse. It seemed merriment, dance and laughter would aid in this, so with the help of Puck, the partying began. Puck wasn’t the only unexpected guest – the Yellow King, an Ancestor of the Sicilians turned up. Also present was L’Arlequin. However all seemed happy to wander around and socialise.
Finally the hour of the wedding approached, but just before the ceremony began Gunnar announced that Ilse von Alfeld and Skularis wanted to be wed. Before Gunnar could bind them Dietrich her brother interrupted and after some discussion it was agreed they be betrothed and would be wed at the Gathering. Then the moment arrived and the Lady Luna entered, accompanied by an escort of the Fellowship. In a solemn ceremony performed by Enoch the two were bound for life. Gunnar made a short speech after the wedding itself announcing firstly that the forces of the White Hand had taken Ravensdark but instead of halting to consolidate their gain were heading straight for Silverdale and the leading edge would be here in 8 to 12 hours. The second that his daughter Maeve was also betrothed, to Enoch, accepting an offer he had made many years earlier.
However before the cheers had subsided it was interrupted by the leader of the gypsies. She declared herself to be Vanya, Queen of the Kald Alfar. After excluding all from her via magic, she mouthed the usual threats that all will die, then called a Word of Power (Igneous, I believe) and many fell to the ground in pain. She teleported out and healers flocked to those that had fallen. Gunnar had also been struck and Queen Elspeth was the first healer to him. Although the others were quickly healed, Gunnar proved more difficult. He appeared to have been struck by a strong, magical poison. Purging failed and she quickly started a chant of Sanctuary. At this point the Lady Luna took over and the Queen retrieved the Sanctuary Amulet for the King. Once protected thought was given to his cure.
Forces were deployed and a decision was made to get Gunnar, and Queen Elspeth, to safety first. We transported them out then returned to the hall to discuss how to find a cure for Gunnar. However an attack at the transport circle caused all plans to go awry. A massive White Hand attack led by Phobos (one of the Dogs of War). In the darkness the fight was a tough one and although we drove them off they took several captives with them. However the worse news was that Phobos had disrupted the link between the transport circle and the Ritual Circle that powered it. Mags, the Light Mage was consulted and it was deemed it could be 12 hours or more before she could stabilise it enough for even one transport, never mind it being strong enough for us all to transport out. Things went from bad to worse as the night progressed and the scouting force of the White Hand launched repeated attacks all night against the hall.
With dawn the attacks slackened and a party were able to go out and find a cure for Gunnar. Meanwhile the Harts helped defend the camp from repeated Troll and White Hand attacks. With the return of the party the information was sent to Odensheim and within an hour Gunnar had returned. The good news was the party was able to recover Tunar, who although converted by the White Hand, by severing his right hand he was returned to himself. This bodes well for those other lost.
Unfortunately the strain on the weakened circle meant that transporting out would be impossible for several hours, until they were able to stabilise the circle. Gunnar also reported that the people of Ravensdark had collapsed the mountain, and although they had suffered severe casualties, the number of White Hand dead was even greater, as many were hiding in the passages under the mountain.
And so the defence began. Long into the afternoon we stood and fought back waves of White Hand, Kald Alfar, Giant Trolls, undead and many other creatures. However as more of their forces arrived we were forced back and back until we could barely hold the edge of the circle. Many people fell, and although some were pulled to safety, others fell behind enemy lines and were lost to us. It was at this most desperate of moments that the Light Mage succeeded in restoring the circle and small groups were able to get out at a time.
Several sorties were made to try and bring back some of those lost and a few were recovered; however the list of those lost is long and grave. The Harts were lucky to escape without loss, for Hugo and Freddie both fell and were left behind and Kelvin elected to remain. Freddie was able to teleport himself straight to Gloucester, and Kelvin was able to reach the bound Hugo, teleport themselves to the transport circle, and then transport out to Odensheim.
This is one party this Hart is not going to forget in a very long time.
Lord Ranulf Farendon