This morning, Eddie and I awoke to much more noise than we had originally anticipated. It seems that the upper section of Taigon Falls has suddenly erupted into a chorus of voices, sounds, shouting, and fun. The sheer amount of activities to partake of during the Flower Festival knows no bounds! It is exciting and highly recommended for people and children of all ages!
The city has really come alive, and it is almost difficult to traverse the streets of Taigon Falls now that a carnival has moved into town for the week of festivities and revelry. There are large tents set up in almost every corner of the street, though not so as to block the regular vendors or passages for people to move about. People with painted faces juggle various objects, some of which are dangerous (knives and lit torches). New vendors have moved into town selling candies and treats as well as exotic wares from far away places. A few of the carnival employees have their own niche of entertainment, too. One man in particular is incredibly strong and was lifting heavy bars without much strain. Various onlookers grasped the bar to give it more weight, but the strong man did not appear to even notice the excess mass. A pair of extraordinarily tall people passed us by, but Eddie explained that they were standing on stilts to give them the additional height. Curious as I could not see the wooden stilts below their long pants, but I will take her word for it.
If you so desire to partake in the festivities of the Flower Festival, be aware that it takes place over an entire week. While I would regret to say any particular day is better than another during this glorious time, I must without reservation say that the carnival is the best activity for those of you who have children in your care. The nightly activities in the fields of flowers might be more appropriate for adults considering the state of undress of many of the participants. But the carnival is very much appropriate for all ages. In other words, everyone is fully clothed and very modest. Any skin showing would perhaps only offend the most conservative of folks.
Eddie and I heard some yelling louder than the expected cacophony of the carnival. Seagerd was trying to move his cart of ales through an alley and was stuck. A mime had placed itself before him and was building a “wall” of sorts (Editor’s note: mimes pretend. The wall was not real) and would not allow Seagerd to cross. As it was, Seagerd could not reverse out of the alley either because of some loose stones behind his wheels and the appearance of a crowd that was very interested in seeing a dwarf scream at a mime. Eddie, thinking quickly, pulled on a “zipper” (Editor’s note: Reminder: this is pretend. There was no zipper) and the mime, frustrated that his scheme had been foiled, went through the opening Eddie created and made his way out of sight.
We laughed with/at Seagerd for the encounter, but were interrupted when a stranger approached. His name was Nichola and he was a traveling merchant. Nichola overheard us call Seagerd by name, and he was inquiring about a job. It seems Seagerd has something that needs to be delivered to a winery about a week away and Nichola was to be hired to drive it with his horse and wagon.
Seagerd excused himself to continue selling his ales, so Eddie and I struck up a conversation with Nichola. Nichola’s job was to deliver Festival Fruit to the winery. This was a problematic quest as it required a few things. First, it required Nichola to arrive in a timely manner before the fruits spoiled. Second, Festival Fruit is extremely rare, growing only once every three hundred years. And third, because of its rarity, Nichola’s cargo might be targeted by thieves who might see the value in such a rare commodity. A fourth problem came to my head, but I believe it only affects me.
Editor’s note: Iosha does not describe precisely what the fourth problem was, but we can venture a guess. He is a writer. If he writes about the festival and suggests partaking of Clan Battlehammer’s wine, he would be very distraught if that wine was not available due to a highway robbery. In other words, Iosha wants the fruits delivered to the winery on time because it will make The Midlands Field Guide more accurate.
Nichola thought this was agreeable and the three of us will have to converse with Seagerd on the matter. As Eddie suggested, acting as guards for the cargo should warrant income, and I have to agree. In the meantime, Nichola was new in town as were Eddie and I, so the three of us decided to spend the morning in the carnival and play some of the games. We ended up going to three activities before Nichola excused himself to carry on with some of his other business.
One thing I should mention, readers, is that carnival games are often set up to cause you, the player, to fail. There are various ways in which this is done, but the most respectable games will never resort to magical effects. If you find yourself playing a game and something truly out of the ordinary occurs, it is wise to admit defeat and politely decline to play again. Continuing to play a magically rigged game will only drain your purse and your good mood.
The first game was the “Ring of Avalore”, a very theatrical name for a simple ring toss. The objective is simple: toss a ring onto a bottle. The gamekeeper warned that a dreaded black dragon may swoop in and block my throws, though. This happened on my second throw when the ring was very close. It seemed that a small gnome was hiding underneath the table of bottles and was actively trying to stop anyone from winning by raising up a tin dragon at the most inopportune moment. But I gave a small, frustrated throw at the end, and managed to get past the dragon. My victory earned me five gold coins, and the chagrin of the gamekeeper.
The second game was a weapon-throwing contest between myself, Eddie, and our new friend Nichola. The gamekeeper here gave us our options for weapons: the Dreaded Dagger of Isarel and the Evil Hatchet of Arabor. Eddie and I each opted for a dagger while Nichola tested his luck with the hatchet. The contest was done with five throws, aiming for different circles on a target about fifteen feet away. Eddie is apparently very skilled in throwing knives and ended up with a score of thirteen. Nichola scored the same, though we all expected his penultimate throw was magically altered by the gamekeeper (Editor’s note: Iosha won’t say it so I will. The gamekeeper cheated). I scored only nine points so I had to buy dinner for Nichola and Eddie as per our wager. Nichola and Eddie each won a single and ridiculously small lolly as a prize. I won nothing, but I feel like I came out on top here. After all, I defeated a black dragon/annoying gnome in a ring toss game and earned enough money to pay for our rooms at Point’s End.
The last place we went together was a fortune telling booth. We quickly ate our food (Eddie bought each of us some lemonade and meat skewers) and went inside. The fortune teller was a kindly crone with long gray hair and a pleasant smile. The space inside the tent was extremely dark and seemed bigger on the inside, and everything smelled like incense. She bade us sit down and gave each of us a quick reading of our fortunes. To Nichola, the teller said he was incredibly fast and gifted. To me, she said I am loved and happy, but often blinded by this. Eddie’s fortune was stranger than expected. She said Eddie will prevail when the spirits come forth, but she would perish if left in shadows. That fortune came with a warning of sorts: “Run free, wild in the wind”
I guided Eddie out of the tent while Nichola offered to pay for the readings. Poor Eddie! She gained a strange magical aura, Festival Fruit turns a beautiful but startling shade of red at her touch, and her fortune seemed to foretell her death. I hope I explained myself well enough when I told her that perhaps this was a good thing. Without telling too much to our new friend Nicola, I told him that Eddie was wanting to leave town soon for feelings of apprehension she had been experiencing here and in Stillwater. Going on a journey to the winery might be exactly what the reading meant by running free and wild in the wing. Nichola agreed.
At this point, Nichola excused himself to take care of some other business. We are hoping to leave with him tomorrow to go towards this winery and he had to make sure such was possible. After he had gone, Eddie and I thought it might be rude of us to expect a place in Nichola’s wagon. I mean, we kind of invited ourselves on his journey, hoping that his employer can actually pay us for the trip. We decided to buy a pack animal to help us carry our things on the trip. This idea led us to a man on the outskirts of town by the name of David Nussen. Mr. Nussen was a kindly gentleman who sold us a mule named Tic. Tic may be a handful on the road, but he seems like a nice mule.
The rest of our morning and much of the afternoon was spent at various places in the market. We bought a pack saddle, bridle, and other supplies for the journey, including some food for Tic on the road. Mr. Nussen was happy to store it with him until we go to pick up our mule tomorrow morning. With much of the day done, Eddie and I thought to go back to the flower festival for one last night. We returned to Point’s End for some supper. Thomas and I had a lively conversation about the festival and the town while Eddie went to the kitchens to talk to Alice about making brownies. Unfortunately, Eddie had gotten to drinking when we returned to Point’s End and I had to escort her back to our room to sleep it off. I didn’t wake her until late in the evening.
The bards in the common room of Point’s End were singing their music proudly as we made our way across the bridge to the field of flowers. There was a line on this night, though I don’t know the reason. People were being let into the field one at a time instead of freely. I suspect this is because on the fourth night of the Festival, much of the flowers were being trampled on by the masses and maybe the Trine wanted to see that situation curbed somewhat. The Trine were there, too, actually, though Eddie and I saw only two of the three. They watched with quaint smiles as we passed them by. Odd, I don’t suspect that the others in line took much notice of the Trine. The Trine only politely nodded to us when Eddie and I acknowledged them.
As only one of us could go in at a time, Eddie insisted I went first. The field itself was the same as I remember it. The large willow tree loomed high above the field with long vines dangling below it. The grass beneath my shoes glistened and sparkled as I stepped. The flowers were beautiful and fragrant as ever. But what shocked me was the sight of seeing some of the revelers flying. As if affected by some spell or enchantment, the people had taken flight. Most hovered only a few feet above the ground and were clearly nervous. Others must have gotten used to the sensation already and were lazily floating higher and higher into the air, laughing and giggling as they did so. Eddie joined me a few minutes later. She seemed distracted though, not taking much notice of the flyers.
Editor’s Note: This note is long and will be truncated. The remainder of it is in the next section.