29 Awakening 508
On the way out of Stavan, on the way to Skeene, the party encounters a large caravan of wagons, carts, and animals headed toward them. Two outriders approach the group and introduce themselves as Almara Delisen and Selevan Skewes. Almara is a beautiful Southron woman, while Selevan is a balding, pinch-faced man of Midron stock. They represent the Umbra Carnival. Apparently the carnival was on it’s way to Stavan, chasing a rumor that they had a beast in their midst.
Surm informs them that the beasts, both of them, have been slain by Master Hunter Savaric and that the bounty has already been collected. Almara takes this in stride, noting only that Berthold, her Master of Beasts, would be disappointed. She then invites the group to ride to Skeene with the carnival as there is safety in numbers. She also invites them to her wagon to tell her the tale of the two beasts. As she rides away, Selevan informs them that they must not ride with the crew but in the back of the train with the Winding Market. When Surm asks what the Winding Market is, he is informed that it is where a variety of merchants have attached themselves to the carnival in hopes of increasing their sales.
The party takes their place at the rear of the carnival as it makes it way south toward Skeene.
That night, as the carnival settles into a rather raucous camp, Surm and Mõrvar invite themselves to dinner with one of the market families: Liesel, Handor, and their baby, Ran. It is an awkward dinner, but Liesel makes them feel welcome to share their stew.
Meanwhile, Rilka and Savaric make their way toward the section of the camp where they had seen some half-orc laborers. Along the way they are stopped by Berthold, a half-elf, at the traveling zoo. He warns them away from the animals because of the danger. Savaric sniffs at the danger, being a Master Hunter. Affronted, Berthold assures them that they will be duly impressed by the menagerie when it stops in Skeene. They boast a manticore and a baby dragon, among other marvels.
The two half-orcs continue on in search of their brethren, which they find in the crew area of the camp. The camp is lively, with music and dancing and spicy food. Rilka and Savaric converse with the half-orcs for a while before returning to their own camp and to bed. Over the course of the evening they met all of the half-orcs: Kranoc, Trask, Zamar, Thora, Kenda, Forlassa, and Gahndor.
30 Awakening 508
The next morning, as the camp gets ready to depart, Surm helps Handor hitch their wagon in return for the previous night’s meal. The party continues to travel with the carnival toward Skeene. Mõrvar manages to find himself riding with a troupe of dancers and attaches himself to a girl named Lanii. He flirts with her throughout the day as the caravan travels on.
That night, Surm attaches himself to Liesel and Handor again while Rilka and Savaric seek out the half-orcs again. Mõrvar Ulrich briefly eats with Liesel and Handor, but then abruptly takes off to be with Lanii.
1 Growth 508
The carnival arrives just outside of Skeene about noon time. As the crew begins to set up the carnival tents, a contingent of riders, including Almara Delisen, head out toward the city. The party catches up to the outriders, who are going into town for supplies and to speak with the Lord Mayor of Skeene. Almara admonishes them lightly that no one ever came by and told the story of the beasts, but wishes them a good journey.
The party continues into Skeene in search of Lord Donat. After making some inquiries, they find his estate near the city center. They are coolly met by the lord’s guards, but find that their host is a warm gentleman of good humor with much good to say about Lord Stavan. Lord Donat assures the party that, while he has no employment opportunities for them now, he will keep them in mind should any arise. He also reveals that he has heard of the beasts that were slain in Stavan, that they are called “Chupacabra”. He inquires as to where they are staying in Skeene and he is asked for a recommendation. He recommends the Nine Sisters Inn near the city’s north gate.
As the party settles into the Nine Sisters, the carnival’s parade passes through town. There are jugglers, clowns, dancers (including Lanii), men on stilts, and music. Even the half-orc crew are part of the procession. Hawkers call out the various thrilling events at the circus, all to be had for only a few coppers. Rilka, Savaric, and Mõrvar decide to go to the carnival tonight while Surm refuses, citing a distrust of carnival folk. He cannot be persuaded otherwise, so the others proceed to the circus.
The carnival midway boasts many games of chance. The group stops at one game involving a tall pole with a stuffed lion’s head on top. The harder you hit the base with a mallet, the further you move a puck up the pole, and the louder the lion’s head roars. A Northron strongman urges the crowd to demonstrate their “pride and passion” by moving the mallet up. One man goes forward and hits the base, causing the lion to roar majestically. Savaric confidently steps up with his copper to try his hand at the test of strength. His effort is less than heroic, getting nothing more than a pathetic “mew” from the lion. Finally, after numerous failed attempts (and pieces of copper spent), the half-orc elicits a monstrous, thunderous roar from the lion that can be heard throughout the circus. Solemnly, the Northron reaches into a wooden case and presents Savaric a paper crown, pronouncing him “King of the Carnival”. Not to be outdone, Mõrvar steps forward with his copper to try his hand. He, too, goes through many tries and many coppers before producing a monstrous roar. With the same solemnity, and without a trace of irony, the Northron presents Mõrvar a paper crown and pronounces him “King of the Carnival”.
Moving away from the midway, denying themselves the pleasures of Mistress Masque and Hajeck the All-Seeing, they find themselves in the traveling zoo. Along with some mundane animals such as elephants and bears, the zoo sports three chained animated skeletons, an emaciated manticore (with its tail spikes removed), and a baby dragon. The group is skeptical of the baby dragon, thinking it to be merely a large lizard, but no one can say so for certain.
After the traveling zoo, the group decides to go to the big top. There, Mõrvar will be able to see Lanii dance and the others can enjoy the other attractions. The group is charged two copper—except for Mõrvar and Savaric, who are only charged one on account of being kings of the carnival. After a performance of acrobats, clowns, and other artists, a large cage is wheeled out on the floor. Inside is a sphinx, introduced as Jherizhana, from the wilds beyond The Rift. Her handler, Berthold, asks her some questions, which she answers demurely. Finally, he says, “as a demonstration of the power held over the mighty beast”, he unlocks her cage. She springs forth and takes to the air, flying over the crowds, eliciting screams of fear and of delight. Berthold positions himself near the cage and commands the animal back into the cage with a mighty flourish of arm gestures. The beast flies into the cage and he locks it behind her. Skeptical, Mõrvar notes that Berthold had cast no spell he had ever heard of. Next come the dancing girls, which the group enjoys thoroughly. Finally, the big top shows wind down and the group starts heading away back toward the midway.
Suddenly, screams start erupting from the midway. “The baby dragon is on the loose! Loose dragon!” The group make their way to the heart of the trouble where they see the beast, running on its squat legs and hissing at passersby. Flying above is the strangest sight of all—a bald humanoid with enormous floppy ears, gliding to and fro, calling out to the group not to hurt the baby dragon. Savaric steps forward and uses his ranger abilities to calm the beast. A breathless Berthold arrives with a muzzle and rope and two other carnies to collect the beast. Mõrvar, snickering, tells Berthold to use his magic to control the beast, which gets a laugh from the crowd. Finally, the beast is muzzled and led away. Berthold asks to speak to Savaric privately, but the half-orc has his friends join him. Regardless, Berthold thanks him for securing the beast before anyone got hurt and gives him 25 gp for his troubles.