Early next morning you leave Oldhome behind, traveling with the Lord and Oldbow on the River. A messenger arrived from the Keeper of the Shrine of the Golden Lady, and he has bid you all head south to attend an informal ceremony to commemorate the triumph of good.
On a beautifully gilded river barge you lazily drift down the slow winding river that runs down Shen Ling from North to South. You drift south with the currents, deep in thought, lounging on hammocks, huge pillows and decorative couches arrayed under the ships silk pavilion. You pass many small villages along the river, all dressed for celebration, for the news has spread quickly. In every small settlement you pass, banners, garlands and window dressings, and silk streamers and colored lanterns have been pulled from storehouses and put on display. Word of your trip down river seems to spread ahead of you. All along the route, at each village, people are there to greet you and their passing lord. Drummers play on the shores while townsmen and their wives wade out into the water to shout “heart is homeland!” or to sing old hymns from Shen Lings past. Children and adolescents have climbed up into the thick branches that hang out over the river with bags of flower petals, to cast down upon you as you pass. People set laurels of beautiful flowers afloat upon the river as you pass, to flow along with you. The air is rich with the scent of cedar pine and jasmine which seems to grow everywhere along the banks. Cherry, rose, and wild flower petals rain down and drift alongside you in the air and on the water as you go. Ecstatic people chase you along the shore, and it seems you finally leave them behind as yet a new village comes into view, and trumpets sound to honor your passing.
It’s mid afternoon and you’ve traveled many miles. The river spills over a great fall up ahead, and the boatmen steer you into a special canal that allows your boat to float up to the edge of the fall, but not over it. There, two great, arching spars of mithril extend out over the drop. Each is anchored to one side of the canal at the edge where the flow of water is stopped by a stone wall. Each is equipped with a complicated block and tackle with a winching system. They are cranes, designed to lift boats out of the water, swing them over the falls, and lower them down to the lake below, upon whose shore rises the Shrine of the Golden Lady, where you first came to this land.
Hundreds have gathered along the canal at the top of the falls, and below, thousands have gathered around the lake. The parks, docks, and the gardens of the manor houses along the lake have been made ready for a great feast. Carpenters have worked all night building stages, putting up tents and awnings, and the trees are covered in ribbons, lanterns, and hand-made ornaments. Mismatched trestle tables and benches have been brought out, donated from every household, as if the entire place has decided to make the streets and shores of Shen Ling into one great feasting hall beneath the sky. Every hearth and oven in the city has be commandeered to make ready, and the smell of fresh breads and sweet confections hang in the air.
It is exhilarating being lowered down the 80 foot falls in the lazily swaying barge. The roar of the water drowns out all else and mist washes over everything, a cool sensation in the warm air. Down on the lake the boat men steer you to a fragile looking doc where the Keeper of the Golden Lady’s shrine is waiting surrounded by priests and attendants in crisp, pressed robes of white linen.
You leave the boat in great ceremony. A flamboyant caller announces each of your names, occasionally adding some small title or detail you wonder how they got. This voice caries across the water, supernaturally loud, and as each of you emerge, horns blast from the doc and drums sound wildly from the opposite sore in response. In the finely appointed hall of the shrine you come before the keeper.
There is a look of genuine relief and peace upon his old features.
“All of my thanks to you heroes. I knew nothing could stop you…that Ehlonna’s providence was with us all. A celebration and a mourning shall be held tomorrow for all of Shen Ling. I humbly ask you to join us and our noble lord for tomorrow’s celebration?
I also ask if you will be my guests this night, and join me for a simple meal in this hall. We do not have many spare rooms here, but asking you all to go into town and find baths might be most inconvenient given your celebrity, so I have a large room prepared for you. The local common house has generously allowed us to borrow some beds, and they’ve loaned us a few extra tubs which I have set up in a bathing room. These humble servants of Ehlonna,”
and he points to one white clad attendant for each of you,
“have offered to be at your disposal. I understand you have had quite an ordeal, they have been counseled not to harry you with questions, only to help you with whatever you need. Between them we can have your cloths cleaned, armor polished, and blades oiled by night fall…will you be my guests?”
- This reply was modified 5 years, 1 month ago by DM.