== STORY INFO ==
Haven Black Market Faire
On the outskirts of City-State territory lies the settlement of “Haven”. This settlement, formerly both the home of the pirates of Oarsmeet and the nomads of Featherfall, is usually quiet. Farmers and colonists who tried to make a living by traveling to start a settlement with these groups have stayed in the area even when those groups and their leaders are long gone. Renamed apparently as a joke, both by farmers looking to start a new life and by those of questionable reputation, this settlement is usually quiet for most of the year.
However, the location is an important one to some of the “locals”. Periodically, a fairly large group of people from all corners of Mardrun slither out of their homes or hiding places and congregate in a short-term market faire. Farm fields come to life with tents, travelers, merchants, and debauchery. Anyone who is anyone in the underworld or black market of Mardrun attends or is represented at these affairs. Short lived and always a secret before they spring up, these “black market faires” are legal enough to avoid a heavy hand from the City-State of Newhope but a closer look reveals the many dealings that go on here. Anything from legitimate merchants, to thug bands, to smuggling wares could be expected at this kind of meet-up.
Who knows what one might learn or experience at the black market faire… but one thing is for certain. Attendees had best watch their coin purses, their luck, and their backs should they be brave (or foolish) enough to make an appearance.
City-State of Newhope Market Faire
After the City-State of Newhope settled in with their recent purchase of Clan Nightriver territory, the focus of Newhope has mostly been inward. With growth, expansion, and changes to the old colony model also come challenges. With the recent change in the Council of the City-State leaving the leadership of Newhope in far fewer hands, worry has begun to spread throughout Newhope territories. This, along with the heavy expectation of the Ulven clans for all peoples of Mardrun to get involved in the war against the mordok, has also helped expand this worry.
In an effort to draw attention to the successes of the City-State, and perhaps also draw attention away from some of the recent scandals, the Council of Newhope has pushed to host this year’s major faire. Travelers, merchants, and delegates from all over Mardrun are expected to attend. A public decree has been given that contests of martial ability and games of chance will be sponsored this year, awarding larger prizes than previously seen before at market faires. One can expect that the nobility of Mardrun will either be in attendance, send representation, or will at least be keeping an eye on any major turn of events.
== EVENT SUMMARY ==
Haven Black Market Faire
Windows are shuttered and doors are locked as the sun begins to set in Haven. With the waning light, dark forms slowly emerge, flitting like shadows down streets and alleys until they reach the center of town. The square is lit well enough, but everything seems to be dusted with darkness, like black snow covering the town and her patrons. Men wearing the badges of the Haven town guard drifted throughout the gathering, floating from booth to booth to “ensure the protection of those in attendance”, though a cursory glance would identify their task as a simple shake-down. Disreputable businesspeople set up stands and hawked their wares as though they were common merchants in any other town. For a while, if one was not paying attention, it would have seemed to be a normal day at the market save for the cover of nightfall; then the knife fight began. Not some quarrel between to rivals, nor a mugging gone wrong, the fight was organized and announced by the guard, as was the betting. A brutal display of quick hands and quicker reflexes, the knife-fighting champion lay dead in a matter of moments at the hands of his challenger.
Since excitement seems to be a slippery slope, shortly after this fight ended, another began; this time unsanctioned by the guard. An ulven warrior accused several locals of assaulting him from behind and sought Ulven justice. Unfortunately, in Haven, justice means little and Ulven Justice means even less. Blades were drawn and voices raised until a number of other fairgoers were able to help talk things down.
Tensions remained high as the prolific Ulven culture clashed with the seedy underbelly of human and Syndar society, but violence was kept in check. Merchants and patrons went about their business, many eager to complete their transactions and get home before proper authorities arrived in the morning. As the fair seemed to be winding down, however, excitement reared its head once more: allegations of slavery and kidnapping were leveled against many residents of Haven, as well as a handful of visitors. Unable to stomach that possibility, weapons were once again drawn on both sides as the guards sought to contain the incident even as many attendees decided to dish out their own form of vigilante justice. A brutal battle took place with the attendees fighting against the town itself. Most managed to escape with their lives, to flee to safety or be taken into custody. Some, however, were not so lucky and lost their lives in that bloody mess of a town.
Newhope Market Faire
Rumors spread of a vicious massacre near the border of Grimward territory not too long ago, though the bright banners, jingling silver, and infectious aromas of the Newhope Market Faire quickly soothed the concerns of the fairgoers. A strong showing by the Newhope Watch, reinforced by members of the standing army put many at ease, knowing that a repeat of the events of Haven would be suicide to say the least.
Tournaments were announced early in the day, urging warriors of all disciplines to enter for a chance to win silver and, perhaps more valuably, the notice of Newhope. Diverging from previous structures, a grand total of five tournaments were announced: single combat, team combat, archery, “Mage Tag”, and the Grand Melee. The fights were declared and the combatants clashed. Following each round, a champion was named and awarded their prize. As he does, Prince Aylin added an unexpected twist to the Grand Melee, however: the combatant who showed the greatest honor in the ring without being named champion would be granted an opportunity to become a squire under a knight of New Aldoria. The honor went to an agent of Newhope, mirroring the scenario two years prior when a soldier of New Aldoria was granted a title of note under Newhope.
For those less inclined toward violence, taverns and shops were set up around the square selling all manner of sweet and savory treats, bits and baubles, and adventuring equipment galore. Games were enjoyed by player and spectator alike, most notably the rousing match of Chairs early in the day and the many rounds of Blocks throughout the festivities, played sometimes with blades, sometimes with feet, and usually with alcohol.
This event was clearly a major investment for Newhope. The donation to the tournaments, the location itself, and the officials and guards attending on their behalf was just a portion of the silver that poured into the market faire. It will be hard to disagree, though, that the morale gained from the festival and the bonds strengthened as the war to the north ramps up will more than pay for themselves in good time.
== PHOTOS ==
Click here to see pictures from the event!