The Long Discussion
A prelude for Challenge II of Book III
Word of High Queen Ylspeth's decree has spread far and wide across the four realms. A mixture of excitement, relief, and unease accompanies the decree, depending on the one hearing the message. In Avalonia, the Mistress of Dragons, Lady Galaria of Druidham, has brought together some of her fellow nobles to discuss the news and plan a way forward. Lady Gwenllian of Prenmôr and Lord Arthur are with her today, brought to Druidham by a short ride on dragonback, ready to be brought back home by another short ride with little interruption to daily life. They are walking in the loggia off of one of Druidham's many courtyards in the late morning, conversing.
"I am not sure that we can do anything particularly extravagant in Prenmôr, of course," Lady Gwenllian was saying. "We are only just getting the settlement built up a bit more as it is, so coin is tight. And I'm afraid we are still some years away from being profitable with our farming, it being tedious labor just to break new fields, plant, and harvest, let alone shipping it across half of a continent!"
"Of course, no one expects you to be selling your grain," Galaria assured her. "We here in Druidham will also not be selling any grain, since we have very little farmland working as of yet. Like Prenmôr, Druidham is a new settlement, too."
Lady Gwenllian bit her lip in thought. "But we should still have a sort of mass entertainment, you think?"
"Yes," Arthur and Galaria said at the same time.
"It need not be extravagant," continued Galaria alone. "What is important is that you show the common people of your land that the High Queen is not so high above them that she does not care about them; that High Queen Ylspeth indeed wants them to be happy and fulfilled. Surely you have musicians and storytellers, yes?"
Lord Arthur said, "Everywhere has musicians and storytellers, Lady Galaria, even Nocturnus. I'd reckon even the Drow have musicians and storytellers, though I've never been to one of their underground cities to find out."
Lady Gwenllian smiled. "Nor I, Arthur, but yes, we have such professions, and we have cooks to throw a feast; would that be enough?"
"Yes, as long as there are stories and songs that praise High Queen Ylspeth and the Unicorn of the royal house of Cedrica. Have your bards come up with something new, have your cooks try something exciting, and pull out all the stops that you can possibly afford to pull out. Here in Druidham, Henjin has already had our musicians begin composing a whole score for a new epic saga, which the poets have been tasked with composing. The events of Raavage's downfall have already been turned into countless ballads and tales, and those should be played and performed, too. Injini and the other gnomes will be putting on a light show with all sorts of explosive powders; the dragonriders will be doing aerial stunts, perhaps with some sort of skills competition; my husband's druids will be doing something with the deep magics to awe and delight; even the children are putting some plays together. This is not Kaliphlin, where we might watch some sort of gladiatorial combat or ostrich race; we have our own ways of having a festival, every city, town, and village of Avalonia knows how to celebrate in its own way. This is the time to do so!"
* * *
At the same time, the serving folk of Druidham were busying about as usual, doing their daily tasks around the island keep.
"Have you heard?" asked Dervin, the steward of the household, as Hylena, the lady's attendant, approached carrying a tray of bowls from the brief luncheon the lady had had with her guests.
"Heard what, Dervin?" asked Hylena. "You know I hear everything, same as you. To what are you referring?"
"We're having a party, a big one, in the next month or so!" said Dervin triumphantly.
"Old news, you know. Old news. Besides, who will be responsible for throwing the party except us, as usual? Nothing changes for a servant; parties are just another occasion for work, except on a bigger scale."
"You're no fun," scowled the steward. "We get to have fun, even if there is work before and after the fun. I, for one, am excited. I hear that there will be dragon races around the island, and magic shows. All I have to do is make sure that everyone is fed and housed, and that there is money for it all, which I do all the time anyways, so this is a real treat for me. You should lighten up, Hylena. My son will be over the moon at the news."
"I'm sure he will be," the lady's attendant said. "In the meanwhile, I need to bring these bowls to the kitchen to be washed. The party can wait for another day."