The Wardens of the Eclipse
Most Suzailans havent the energy left at the end of their workday for evening revelry. They meet with friends at a favorite local tavern to talk over a tankard or two, and then stumble home to bed. This tendency of the average Suzailan to congregate in small taverns is why visitors bearing news are so popular and good storytellers can earn a copper or two for
a tale. Those Suzailans too drunk to be moved from their pub seat are usually carted to a back room of the tavern to snore their drink off. Just about every tavern in the city has a snoring room for this purpose, and tavernmasters who put customers in one are entitled to take from each of their purses the cost of one drink of the most expensive sort they’ve
drunk that evening.
Entertainment for Suzailans comes in the form of day-long fairs and festivals. Most shops close down for these celebrations, which consist of all the usual seasonal feasts (Greengrass, Midsummer, Deadwinter Day, and the like) plus hiring fairs in spring, summer, and fall, and the Festival of the Sword. Hiring fairs are gatherings of journeymen skilled in a
trade held so that prospective employers can select new employees. The choice offered by a large selection of skilled craftsfolk pleases the employers, and such public hirings deny any merchants the opportunity to hire a desperate worker unfairly, dirt-cheap, to later undersell their rivals.
The Festival of the Sword, held on the fourth day of Kythorn, is unique to Suzail, representing the importance of the arms trade to the city. It consists of a mounted parade of people dressed in the best armor their shops make who gallop around the streets as fast as safely possible (and sometimes faster!), waving blades, bellowing war cries, and sounding
horns. They entertain the populace with their thundering progress until the Citadel bells toll, whereupon they all race to the gates in the ornate fence of the Royal Court. There they enter into the Court and are toasted with fine wine, sherries, and exotic liqueurs. After thirsts have been slaked, these gallant armed folk look out through the fence into an area of the Promenade kept clear for the Triumph of the Sword. Many other townsfolk also gather around this area to watch a fully armored fighter combat and slay monsters. When the battle is done, the fighter casts the killing blade into the air and general feasting begins.
These days, the monsters slain by the fighter are people in costumes, and the battle is play-acting.
Suzail has one other interesting festival: Chasing the King. It is celebrated on the sixth day of Marpenoth. It seems Boldovar Obarskyr, who reigned briefly some centuries ago, was a wildbeard, or madman. Although he was usually of calm and normal temperament, he’d
suddenly fly into berserk, killing rages, seize a weapon, and set off across the city hacking and slashing at everything and everyone who got into his way until dusk. He eventually perished as a result of driving his blade through his favorite consort, who was trying to soothe him and stop one of these rampages. Her falling body dragged the king, who wouldn’t let go of his sword, over the edge of a parapet. He was impaled on an array of
upright lances bundled for transport on a cart standing below.
In the present-day festival, the unfortunate king is represented by a criminal already condemned to death. This miscreant is given a blunt sword, encased in full armor, and furnished with a belt of potions of healing. Then he’s let into the streets and not allowed out of the city until sundown. (Some men have shed their armor and swum the harbor or crawled through the sewers to get out of Suzail earlier.) Anyone who likes can attack the fleeing king, who cant run with any weapon but the one he was given and can do anything on his run without fear of reprisal. (The king is allowed to seize weapons raised against him and use them on their wielders.) One fleeing king set several streets ablaze, which kept a lot of folk too busy to harm him, but he tried to hide in the smoke and died. Townsfolk usually dont have to worry about being struck down by surprise by the fleeing miscreant. He’s usually at the center of a whirlwind of barking dogs, running boys, and jeering journeymen.
If the false king can stay alive until dusk, he is fully healed by a priest of Tempus hired for the occasion, given 50 sp, a good horse, food, and clothing, and he goes free. Several criminals have so won their freedom in recent years. The criminal must agree to play the king, but the
lord chamberlain chooses who is asked.
There are at least two celebrations each month throughout the year. Each is
an excuse for parades, drunken revelry, minstrelry, wrestling in the streets, and eating far, far too much! The day after each festival all businesses except restaurants are closed. Most folk spend it visiting family and friends and dining out.