People have been up for hours, several merchants have set up tents to vend their wares of food, clothes, local crafts, souvenirs, and beverages. Others folk have arrived early to gain positions near the podiums and the tables beyond. Tables loaded with a picnic buffet ready for the congregation after the ceremonies. The Swallowtail Festival begins promptly as scheduled, and the turnout for the opening speeches is quite respectable. A stage has been set up in front of the cathedral and a woman with short auburn hair stands in the center. Behind her sit four wooden chairs, three of them occupied. The square before the church is crowded now, the women loading the tables and the merchants hawking their goods join other locals and travelers as Mayor Deverin walks on the stage. As the crowd notices her, the chatter begins to die down and eyes turn to the stage. She smiles and begins to speak.
“Good morning everyone.” The attractive and personable woman welcomes the crowd with her usual friendly attitude. Her excitement is obvious and proves contagious as she welcomes visitors and locals alike. “I see everyone’s arrived. Even Larz Rovanky has left off tanning hides to be here. I’m sure his workers are glad it’s not their hides getting tanned, at least not today.” When the chuckles died down and Larz stopped glowering past a reluctant smile, Mayor Deverin continued.
”It’s wonderful to see so many of you here to join us on this proud day, and I’d like to extend my welcome to the many new faces I see in the crowd. As Mayor, I’d like to extend welcome to you on behalf of the town. I hope you all are enjoying your stay here in Sandpoint and I sincerely hope that you’re having a wonderful time. Our town has much to offer and I hope we can consider you as new friends. Spend some time in Sandpoint and you’ll grow to love it like we do. And even if you don’t stay long, spend your money while you’re here!”
Several of the merchants give a vigorous applause, and the Mayor lets the crowd settle before continued over the remaining chuckles. “And to all of the old faces I see, thank you for coming and thank you for everything that each of you has done to keep this town strong. Thank you especially for all the time, sweat, and love you’ve put into building this fine cathedral. Sandpoint didn’t seem complete without a church. We’ve always had heart. The true heart of Sandpoint is you, her people. But now we have an expression of that heart, and we built it ourselves!”
“Anyway, I can smell the lunch our tavern keepers are cooking already. A round of applause to Ameiko, Garridan, Cracktooth, and Jargie! I’m sure Father Zantus can spare an extra prayer that they don’t burn anything before we get to eat it.” More cheering erupts: the enticing aromas drifting over the crowd are overwhelming. “Now, since you have three more of us to stand there through, I’m going to sit down. Today as mayor I am declaring a town order to have fun! This is my favorite time of year!”
The crowd responds with a roar, and its a while before the Mayor could continue over the applause. “Without further ado, let me welcome our dutiful Sheriff, Belor Hemlock to the stage!” She indicates a dark-skinned, bulky man, clearly of Shoanti descent, wearing his armor and armed with a prestigous looking sword. Sheriff Hemlock nods and steps forward onto the stage.
“Thank you, Mayor. First off, let us have a moment of silence.”
He bows his head and begins speaking, “Let us remember the memories of those friends and family members who lost their lives in the tragic blaze that made our new cathedral necessary. Cherish those memories and may the blessings of our Gods see them happy and well in the Afterlife.”
He raises his head and stands in silence for a moment scanning the crowd.
“Over the next three days all instances of wrong-doing will be dealt with swiftly and to the fullest extent of the law. No exceptions. As the sheriff of Sandpoint, I, Belor Hemlock, would also like to welcome everyone to enjoy themselves today, and you may or may not be aware of the planned bonfire at the beach tonight… it looks to be a promising festival. Do trust that I will be monitoring the level of safe conduct late into the evening. I am trusting our fun will lean to the side of caution. If you are a militia member, remember where your duties lay, and help Sandpoint keep the peace. Thank you.” With that the sheriff steps back awkwardly and becons with his hand, for the next speaker to approach.
The next speaker is quite a contrast to the Sheriff; he is brightly dressed, sports a well-groomed goatee, and seems to be thoroughly enjoying the day. As he reaches the center stage he loosens his collar a bit, winks into the crowd and starts to talk:
“Well, thank you Sheriff for that uplifting oratory. Don’t worry I doubt there will be any fun for you to stress over today. If things get out of hand you can ask Ameiko take the stage and put as all to sleep with one of her stories.” The crowd responds with a combination of chuckles and offended heckles.
Without a beat Ameiko shouts from her merchant tent “What about the story of your last flop at the theater? I’m almost done with my newest ballad, I call it Cyrdak the Unimpressive! Who wants to hear?”
The crowd responds with laughter and cheers. Amieko can still be heard shouting over the crowd “Your secret boyfriend helped me come up with the name!”
Cyrdak stands awkwardly waiting out the crowds laughter to die down, as it does Amieko seers in one more one liner, “What a sleepy crowd Cyrdak!”
After the noise finally quiets Cyrdak continues with a forced smile as if nothing happened, "We can all agree, this is our time to celebrate! I know this town has been through some hard times, but we don’t lay down easily. Look at what we’ve accomplished! [He motions towards the church.] And I’m telling you, they spared no expense with this place. Father Zantus’ chamber pot? It’s solid gold and comes with a singing choir standing nearby. It’s no doubt our neighbors and nobles put a pretty copper into the construction of this joint. And to think they wanted nothing in return, but to enlighten us and our taxes for many lifetimes to come. But worry not about your coinpurse, I’ve heard from father himself that the gods are getting their gold together to help pay for this place. But don’t take it from me, let me hand the stage off to the man who knows in charge here. But before I let him get things going I’d like to take this opportunity to extend my personal invitation to each and every one of you to the new production of “The Harpy’s Curse” starring the world-famous Magnimarian diva Allishanda as Avisera the harpy queen! It’s all premiering tomorrow evening and continuing throughout the next two weeks at the Theater. Come see it, it will be fabulous! And now join me in a bit of applause for his holiness himself, Father Zantus!"
The crowd cheers as Cyrdak motions Zantus to the center stage. The young priest looks noticeably abashed at the reception set up for him. He wears the traditional ceremonial robes of a priest of Desna and a shiny silver holy symbol about his neck. He smiles and tries to calm the crowd down, eventually speaking when the applause has subsided:
“Ahem, thank you. Thank you Cyrdak. And thank all of you for coming to join us on this most Holy day.
“Today ushers in the new Fall season. A season I have always thought was named appropriately, as today was the day Desna fell from the heavens during battle with Lamashtu.
Though all the world wept for the loss of the goddess, and of dreams, it is said that she survived. She was discovered, on the rocks of a beach, by a blind orphan, forgotten and cast aside by the rest of the world. Though the orphan didn’t know who she was and could do little for the wounded goddess, she still stayed by her side, holding a vigil on the beach, tending to her as best she could and praying to her god, Desna. When other followers had abandoned Desna, the orphan empathized and held hope in her faith. Through the care of this orphan Desna recovered and revealed herself to the blind woman. In return Desna transformed her into an angel and offered the girl ascension to Desna’s palace in the heavens. It is now there and forever that they shall remain.”
Father Zantus motions toward the newly finished cathedral, the sunlight glittering off the stained glass windows. “This story reminds us that tragedy is just a setback, not an end. Though our place of worship was destroyed, and our previous priest, Father Tobyn, perished in the flame, we have preserved as Desna would desire, and built anew.
Today is our day of new beginnings. Our day of ascension.
Friends of Sandpoint, I declare the Swallowtail Festival officially underway!"
An acolyte throws off the canvas of a nearby wagon, revealing thousands of swallowtail butterflies…the Children of Desna. He opens the cages and the crowd begins to applaud as butterflies flutter in every direction through the crowd, and eager children begin chasing them.
The party was able to overcome these goblins as well – and as they put down the foul warchanter our session ended.