As a concentrated repair and building effort comes to a close last month, the focus of Mardrun shifts over to the annual market faire in July. Many expected the faire to be held in City-State territory and there were rumors that Clan Nightriver was going to make an announcement soon about holding a festival. However, the Prince of New Aldoria seems to have beaten everyone to the punch and announced, rather brashly, that Aylin’s Reach will be hosting a market faire this month. Drawing ire from some nobles about “not maintaining etiquette” has little impact on the merchants that have quickly pledged to travel to and setup at Aylin’s Reach.
The new home to New Aldoria has seen tremendous economic and structural expansion over the last two years. Between a close partnership with Clan Stormjarl and a great opportunity to be involved in many construction and relocation contracts for the former Clan Squallborn Ulven, Aylin’s Reach has solidified itself as a strong rival to the impressive territories of the City-State. Although nowhere near as large in size, the mercantile networks of New Aldoria seem to be involved and invested in everything going on in the continent.
Representatives from all corners of Mardrun are expected to make an appearance, granting great opportunities for attendees to mingle with powerful people on Mardrun. The market faire will be host to all sorts of merchants and the usual tournaments and games of chance are expected to add excitement to the faire.
Following Prince Aylin’s announcement people flock quickly into the area in an attempt to set up and hock their wares and rub their elbows with any nobles who have decided to put their feelings of broken etiquette aside to revel in the joys of the yearly market faire. Within days the streets of Aylin’s Reach are filled beyond their normal levels of wine-drunk pedestrians as people from all over Mardrun take some time for themselves to feel the sun on their skin and enjoy a moment of pure ease and revelry after months of news of Mordok attacks in the north.
As the actual date of the market faire draws closer, tents and market stalls begin to spring to life in a beautiful park square in the center of town. Strategically located between several taverns and a few bakeries, it’s clear that this square was always destined for a life of city-wide public events. One half of this square has been set up to accommodate the variety of merchants, while on the other a series of raised platforms has been built around a decently sized fighting ring. Throughout the day, when not used for the tournament, the ring is populated by various bands and bards looking to make some silver from the drunken crowds.
At midday when the sun is directly overhead the tournament is called and people of all walks of life flood into the arena. Some are true and tested warriors looking to show their abilities in battle. Some have simply come to watch the spectacle. Some seem as though they are just drunk enough to think they stand a chance in a fight. The games go well. People are given a chance to show prowess with their bows; warriors fight with swords and shields; several unarmored fighters show off their skills and bravery as they swing heavy poleaxes at each other in the arena; mages take a chance to hurl spells back and forth at each other, but it’s all leading up to the final event and finally the moment all had been waiting for arrives as the small-unit battle takes to field. All of the combatants who had fought in the tournament are divided into two opposing teams, balanced by both their individual weapons as well as the relative strength of their team-members. With the blowing of a horn the two teams charge into the fray. It’s a relatively quick battle, as they often can be, as the two teams smash into each other’s lines. Arrows rain down from archers, shields smash against each other and are in turn splintered by heavy axes. Spells of all shapes and colours are hurled across the field. In the end two warriors remain standing. They circle each other for some time before eventually trading blows and before long one falls to his knees and yields. The crowd cheers at the spectacle and slowly begins to stand to leave the arena, but before they are able to file out another horn blows from outside.
The gate to the area is flung open and two men in full plate, wielding long wooden lances gallop into the arena on the backs of Aylin’s prized horses. The crowd immediately roars to life. For the colonists this will be the first joust they will have seen in many years; for the ulven this will be an entirely new spectacle. A general sense of unease can be felt from many of the ulven in attendance as their closest experience with horses comes from the infamously grumpy Mardrun ponies.
The horsemen take turns showing various skills and strengths before finally settling in for a well and proper joust. They take three passes at each other, trading blows from lances until eventually one of them is unseated from his horse. The crowd erupts with cheers and hollers and even most of the ulven seem to have come around and become swept up in the experience. There is no doubt that the story of this moment will travel far and wide over Mardrun. Colonists will tell the story of how they got to see a joust again; Ulven will tell the tale of the mad colonists who rode into battle atop enormous ponies and walloped each other with wooden sticks.
The rest of the day carries an excited energy as people flock back into the market area filled with adrenaline and amusement. Coin trades hands faster than normal and alcohol flows freely from the windows of taverns. Throughout the faire you’d be hard pressed to find someone not discussing the tournament and the joust that followed it. One thing is certain, Aylin’s Reach has made itself known as one of the places to be on Mardrun.