The city of Kenabres is teeming with activity. Its normally 12,000 souls has swelled to nearly 15,000 as people from outlying communities like Valas’s Gift to the north and Truestone to the east gather within Kenabres’s walls for the annual celebration. The holiday officially begins at noon on the 16th of Arodus, today, and culminates at sundown on the 25th. Originally dedicated to reverence for Aroden, the God of Man, the celebration has changed in the century since His death.
Armasse now stands as testament to the strength of the Mendevian people and the crusaders who hold fast against the demonic horde in the Worldwound on the other side of the West Sellen River. New priests will be ordained, new squires chosen for the many knights of the crusade, and the ranks of the city’s militias will swell with new recruits being offered arms, armor, and training. Jousting competitions, mock duels and battle reenactments all will have center stage in Clydwell Plaza, but the markets and parks throughout the city will have their share of festivities, as well.
All this, of course, is an eagerly anticipated distraction from the horrors of being on the front lines of the war. Smiles on faces normally marred by downcast eyes and furrowed brows do wonders for morale, and Prelate Hulrun and his advisors do not skimp on the trappings of festival for Kenebres. Even now, Clydwell Plaza and the Cathedral of Saint Clydwell shine with magically augmented lights. Roving bands of musicians provide entertainment as the people gather in the Plaza, awaiting Hulrun himself to appear on stage. After he is done with his annual address to Kenabres’s citizens, jousts will begin in earnest, and finding the best view is foremost on your mind as you jockey for position. Sweet pies and wine cup in hand, you’ve finally found yourself a good spot, and you smile at the person next to you as a hush falls over the crowd.
Hulrun’s silver armor and red tabard are as impressive as always, marking him easily as a figure of distinction as he strides out onto the stage set up in front of Saint Clydwell’s. The bright gold symbol to Iomadae that marks his tabard blazes with authority as he doffs his helm and holds aloft his longsword for all to see. A cheer swells from the crowd as he flourishes the weapon, holy light shining off it visible even on this sunny day. When he sheaths the weapon, the crowd goes silent.
“People of Kenabres!” he calls out with a smile, “it is good to see you all, again.” You once again cheer with the crowd as he hands his helmet to his lead Inquisitor, Liotr Hawkblade, then turns back toward all of you. “This year has seen me age another year, good people, and the white in my beard can no longer be denied its place, even as my hair seems intent on retreating from my scalp.” A wave of laughter rolls through the crowd as Hulrun strokes his fully whitened beard and mustache. “But this year I have also seen you people of Kenabres stand fast, once again, against the horrors of the Worldwound. You have stood tall against the demons as they beat upon this city’s gates. You have manned your places, be they posts upon the wall overlooking the river, the pumps that bring the Sellen’s waters up our bluffs, or the taps behind the barback of Defender’s Heart.” Again you smile and laugh, as that post is one to relish, for Kimroth keeps the best inn within the city walls.
“People of Kenabres,” Hulrun continues, “today we mark the 95th year since the First Crusade was declared by the Church of Iomadae. For 95 years we have fought against the demons in Her name, She who inherited the mantle of Aroden, She who protects Mendev against the predations of The Abyss. Kenabres has grown in that time to become the beacon of good that we are. We stand on this bluff and look east at things we often cannot even comprehend. We stand on this bluff and hold fast against the tides of demon armies. We stand on this bluff and throw back the cultists that sneak into our walls and seek to sow discord. We fought for this ground 21 years ago when the Storm King assaulted The Kite and sought to destroy the Wardstone within. And it is here on this bluff we of Kenabres will stand when Deskari’s hordes are finally thrown back into the rifts and the Worldwound closed for good!”
The cheer the crowd raises this time is almost deafening, and Hulrun whips it into a frenzy by drawing his sword again and letting its light shine out over the square. When his sword suddenly falls from his grasp, you glance at the man beside you and share a nervous smile. When Hulrun drops to his knees, his hands around his throat, you know something is definitely wrong. When a voice that comprises the fury of a thousand storms invades your thoughts, you know with certainty that the balor Khorramzadeh is bringing his might to bear.
“Well now, mortals. This seems like as good a time as any for me to make my appearance!”