Friday, May 11, 2007

Here's a brief summary of the developments that have occurred in Crossguard during the past few years:

Following the group's sewer excursion and its subsequent restoration, the dabus and locals work hard to clean up the alleyway, chase the swarms of flies and rats that had gathered in the area and begin the preparations for the upcoming Great Panathenaea to celebrate Athena's holy day. A few locals in the neighborhood do get ill with filth-fever over the following few days (including Ludvik), but Ismene and Lini tend to the worst cases and consequently manage to keep the fever from spreading or claiming any lives.

After hearing from Chryseis about who the group encountered in the sewer, Prioress Sophia asks you all to not let it slip that there were Doomguard involved. Fact is that the Plague-born are just a small sect within the larger Faction. Openly blaming the Doomguard at large might simply create more problems for the neighborhood since the livelihood of so many of its residents depends on the nearby Armory. Fact is, she doesn't want to needlessly antagonize the Sinkers and draw their full attention on Crossguard. Afterall it's not known if the faction high-ups even knew or approved about the activities of the Plague-born. She's also not convinced that they're solely to blame. Sophia will tell Chryseis in confidence about her suspicions that there's was more going on; she refuses to believe that the sabotage just happened to coincide with the preparations for the Great Panathenaea...

After the cleanup, preparations for the celebration continue as the temple's order for banners and flowers start to arrive at the Cornucopia. Garlands are woven, banners and pennons are strung along the way and the temple is decorated both inside and out. On the eve of the Panathenaea dignitaries and visitors from the Olympian temples in the Lady's Ward start to gather in the neighborhood. The festivities start when the light in the city dims with evening. A gathering of Crossguard youths start at the temple of Zeus in the Temple District a few miles away and begin a relay race to carry a sacred fire torch through the streets and into Crossguard. This year represents the last time that Ekikos will participate in the race as he is getting too old. It's also his younger brother Kastor's first time participating in the race. Arriving at the dark temple amidst a cheering crowd, the torch is used to light candles and lanterns that had been prepared earlier. When the temple and street is bathed in light, the priestesses of the Atheneum begin a parade procession around Swordhold. All virgin girls in the neighborhood, including Zosime, Svana, Medea, Aella and Kalliope along with others are all welcome to take part. Ismene helps Sophia to slowly walk the route while Chryseis carries a small mast upon which is draped the Goddesses' new dress (woven and sewn by Ergastinai Melissa over the past year and a half). Once the procession returns to the temple, the priestesses retreat alone to the interior to dress the Goddess (by pulling down the old dress and pinning the new dress in its place upon the tapestry depicting the Athena. Outside, the 'Pannychis' begins in earnest; it's an all-night street party with singing, dancing, storytelling and drinking.

It's a raucous celebration and the early morning finds scores of unconscious revelers strewn on people's floors, on the tables and benches of the Keg & Cask, on the steps of the temple and even in the street. Most are kicked awake by red-armored Harmonium patrolmen who grumble about vagrancy laws, but avoid scragging anyone outright. As the Panathenaea continues on into the day, various wealthy groups and individuals, including Hinrik, Hisapore, Wingar and Lady An'azi present gifts of amphorae of precious olive oil to the Prioress on the steps of the Atheneum. After a public mass to bless the assembled, their homes, Swordhold and the city of Sigil in thanks, the day's activities begin in earnest. Various planned and impromptu wrestling competitions, foot races and martial displays ensue with the Prioress awarding the winners wreathes of laurel leaves.

After awakening in the morning next to his sister's empty bed, Ludvik (who's still recovering from fever) starts to hunt around for Svana, but to no avail. Hinrik is at first concerned but quickly grows more manic during the day's activities as he hunts around the neighborhood for his errant daughter. By late afternoon, as the Panathenaea is winding down, the frantic man starts recruiting neighbors to actively to hunt for Svana. Over the next few days many efforts are made to find the girl in the neighborhood. Aurelius takes to the skies to search from above and catch the chant on the streets. People remember seeing Svana dancing in the crowd during the Pannychis, but recollections get rather hazy when everyone passed out around dawn.

The hunt continues over the following week as Hinrik extends the search all over the Lower Ward, but to no avail. Although Sophia tries to support the search efforts with prayers and inquiries with visiting priests, the recent troubles, the preparations for the celebration and the many ceremonies have taken a lot out of the elderly woman and she eventually puts Ismene in charge of temple affairs while she rests. Within a few months it becomes clear to the other priestesses at the Priory that the ageing woman is growing incapable of resuming her previous duties. Five months after the Great Panathenaea, Sophia voluntarily abdicates her position in favor of passing the mantle of Prioress to Ismene while she retires to a quiet life of prayer and study in the Priory.

Hinrik takes the disappearance of his only daughter very badly. The quiet and reserved man grows even more distant and solemn. He seems incapable of offering his remaining child any support in this difficult time as he lets the fires of his forge grow cold. For months he continues ranging around the Ward, only returning every dew days to pass out in bed. Ismene tries to counsel him, but her words seem to fall on def ears. Although he takes to drinking for awhile, the man is not a bubber and eventually drops the practice in favor of melancholic brooding. After a few months, the man slowly seems to recover his senses somewhat. In his search for meaning behind the tragic losses in his life, Hinric turns to the beliefs espoused by the Doomguard for solace. A small but dedicated minority in that faction believe in the inevitable dissolution of the multiverse, but strive to maintain what they can while accepting that loss has its place in everyone's life. With their support, Hinrik eventually returns to the forge and slowly resumes smithing. Within a year he officially joins the Doomguard and his business prospers due to the strong relationships he builds within the Armory.

Another who has suffered personal loss, in the form of his entire home-world, is poor clueless Eliath. Although Aurelius does eventually manage to learn the dark of Waterdeep and Baldur's Gate (they're in a prime world called Toril) and even locates a portal in the city that leads there (in a tavern called the World-Serpent Inn) Eliath shows no interest in returning there (although its uncertain if he even understands what is told to him). Having suffered through the worst and lived through the best of times in Crossguard, the planestruck Eliath seems to have taken a liking to the place; even though he's incapable of communicating with most residents. He becomes somewhat of a local fixture in Crossguard; doing odd jobs for people as he slowly picks up a bit of the cant. He often takes shelter in Hinril's forge on rainy nights, although he is sometimes chased out of the area or scragged for vagrancy by Hardheads patrols. In spite of it, he always returns eventually; often peddling junk that he's found and refurbished as best he can. Eliath seems to be a kindly old soul, though he comes off as a bit barmy. A favorite of the younger children, such as Kalliope, Kastor and Eugene, the prime often entertains them by speaking in his native gibberish language; making up nonsensical rhymes as he speaks. He continues doing so long after its known that he can speak planar.

In Yourgos' household changes occur slowly. Yourgos himself keeps working hard. With Nestor at his side, the pair continue working as laborers, oftentimes as coal & iron porters working to feed the ever-hungry smithies of Swordhold. Although she continues working at home, Medea takes vows and joins the clergy of the Athenium as an acolyte. Eleni continues working as a washerwoman with her daughters Aella and Kalliope as her helpers. Aella has also begun being courted by a half-elven lad from a few streets over. Tlao continues his work as a courier while Kastor takes responsibility for the family's light-staff from his aging brother. Ekikos himself is employed directly by his longtime patron Jornas. Jornas himself is a Lanista, an owner and trainer of a gladiator stable called 'Achillia' based in the New Tyr district and operating out of the popular Blood Pit fighting arena, of which he is also part owner. In his spare time he teaches the Pankration wrestling style to his apt pupil, of whom he seems to have grown quite fond.

Meanwhile in the raccoon household, the recently shaken Mika reconsiders his previous stance and decides to begin imparting the skills he knows to his young kits to better their chances of surviving and prospering in the Cage. Although she remains nervous about their studies, Sauii supports her husband's choice. Although Zosime takes to the work with a zest, the younger Eugene remains somewhat uncommitted. He seems to prefer contemplative and studious pursuits and to continue taking lessons with the priestess' at the Athenium long after most people of his equivalent age have moved on to apprenticeships or careers. He also starts making inquiries about finding a mentor in the Clerk's Ward.

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