From the Private Annals of the Church of Pelor.
Transcribed by Beltak, Scribe to His Radiant Servant,Tremak the Plush.
The 1st day of Eleasias in the Year of the Ruins Reborn.
The festival had started with a grand flourish, though none will admit to its source. Grand flares and lights sprang from the very ground high in the air – purples, greens, yellows, and oranges – then exploding in a shower of sparks, falling to the ground for the children to catch. Some say it was Lucius Drax who started the showers of colours, but he maintained his innocence. His small apothecary store, with minor scrolls of magic and pendants of so-called power has yet to turn in any profits, or even any customers within the town, and it is doubted whether he could afford to use his stock to produce such a flashy and temporary display.
His Radiant Servant Tremak commented on the brash use of magic and how such parlour tricks and exhibitionism got us to where civilisation is in the first place; but I could see the childlike wonder in his eyes as he watched a yellow flare dance up into the moonlit sky. The fire show had gone on for quite a while until it had been brought to a close with a huge rush of colour and noise culminating in a huge explosion in the air, showering everyone with sparks and setting fire to one of the haystacks of wild wheat in the Lowfields’ field.
Midsummer Night had certainly started with a bang.
The grandest part of the evening was yet to come, however, a great feast had been prepared by the Goodberrys and the Lowfields with all of the food produced from what had been grown or produced within the town. Breads from the wild wheat harvested by the Lowfields and the Greenwoods; cheeses from the goats and cattle kept by the Smalls; meats from deer and boar trapped by the Draxs; and wine and beer, produced by the halfling Skillet. Even the Ironshield dwarves had contributed, with some of the foulest smelling spirits you’re likely to encounter.
As food and ale flowed and singing and dancing took over the town, the mood became bouyant, all looking forward to the tradition yet to come. For years on Midsummer Night, or the Long Night as it is sometimes called, unwed maidens are set free in the woods and are “hunted” by their would-be suitors throughout the night. When they are caught by their suitor, a betrothal is made.
Tymander Small stood and cleared his throat, banging a pewter mug against the bench for silence. As the crowd quietened, he motioned towards one of the smaller houses, and shouted for the doors to be flung open. As the doors drew back and torches were raised, a beautiful figure came forth, her skirt-tails swirling behind her. Fortune Small, dressed in a wonderful velvet green gown stepped nervously forwards, flanked by her young sister, Oriana, and young Alicia Lowfield, both holding flowers and throwing petals as she walked.
A chorus of wolf-whistles came from the drunken benches and there was much laughter. Brand Lowfield was pushed to the fore by his brothers and out and up onto his feet.
“Fortune, run!” shouted the girls from the town, almost in unison. And at that, Fortune broke into a laugh and sprinted off towards the woods, her gown billowing behind her.
A huge bull’s horn was thrust into Brand Lowfield’s hands and little Skillet stepped up with a huge pitcher of ale. As Skillet filled the horn full of ale, some of the men began to sing, and laugh, and jeer, in anticipation. When the horn was full to the brim, Brand grinned and held it aloft. As Brand pulled the horn to his lips and began to drink, the crowd began to chant.
“One, two, three,” they chanted as one, as Brand gulped back the ale, “four, five, six.”
On the count of twenty three, and not without a little stagger, Brand wiped the foam from his lips with his forearm and held the horn aloft in victory. The crowd cheered wildly.
“Go! Go! Huntsman, chase your prey!” the crowd shouted, and Brand staggered off with a cocky smile towards the woods.
As he left, with cheers and whoops of laughter to follow him, the first drops of rain started to fall. The cries and laughter started to die down as people scrambled to stop the foodstuff and their possessions from getting wet. Soon, the spot of rain became a shower, then all were looking about warily for the start of a storm. It is very rare indeed for the weather to be bad during this night – such is considered a very bad omen, usually thought to foretell famine or plague. You could see this fear reflected in people’s faces.
As food was hurried into the buildings and men scattered with tablecloths and cookpots, the first of the lightning struck, and the woods were lit up in stark white light.
Neither Brand nor Fortune returned last night, regardless of the shouted calls we made. The lightning crashing down made it unsafe for us to go after them, and we hope they are safe within the wood until the storm dies down.
I’m writing this back in the Chruch sanctum, trying to pass the time without worrying. The storm is still raging outside, with no sign of abating. Divinations from His Radiant Servant Tremak show that the storm will pass soon, and Pelor will show us a sign of the couple.
With the lightning strikes over the woods, Midsummer Night finished with a bang. I only hope that Brand and Fortune will be found safe when we are able to search for them.