The players have come to Pairing Stones for the wedding of Caerthan, Khan of the Northern Pol-Joni and Eanflaed Flowerhair of Waterby. There are many there besides the families of the betrothed, and the players are not out of place. Initially, there are Grom of the House of Jastarkos, Humakt initiate, a Sartarite weaponthane from the Yeavering Tribe, and Xoraya Greatbow, princess and last survivor of the Lesser Ibex people of Prax.
On Fireday, three contests were announced. Grom entered the morning contest, a wrestling competition. In the first round he met Young Deirik of the Pol-Joni, who grappled with him for three rounds before Grom pinned him. Next round, he was forced to endure the taunts of the Vingans as he drew Big Hilda of Waterby. They grappled inconclusively for five rounds before Hilda lunged at him and missed, grabbing instead a crowd member in embarrassing fashion. The judges warned Hilda, which unsettled her, allowing Grom to immobilize her arm and force the submission. Hilda hugged Grom and expressed the hope of sharing a beer, which gromwas able to turn down honorably owing to his geas of drinking no alcohol. Next came Kwik Kik Lee, a martial artist, whose attack was so bad that Grom was able to grab him and throw him so hard that it broke Lee’s leg (fumble vs critical, with poetic license). Grom received the plaudits of the crowd, so that he had a larger portion of them on his side when he faced Hardrath Strongarm, blacksmith of Waterby, who was undefeated in the last three wrestling contests he had entered. Hardrath missed his initial lunge and walked into Grom’s hold. Despite the disparity in size and strength, Grom was able to throw Hardrath for the unexpected victory. Hardrath raised Grom’s hand, impressed by the speed of his opponent’s success, and Caerthan presented him with his prize, a fine Broadsword, which Grom recognized as having a hilt wrapped in Dragonnewt skin.
After a lunch of mutton and BEER, came the rising contest, where the contestants would have to jump progressively higher obstacles. Xoraya, born to the saddle, was keen to enter, but her Great Ibex was ruled illegal (many nomads joined in her mutterings) and she was forced to choose a horse. Nevertheless, her skill enabled her to choose a string horse, and she entered the contest confidently. She cleared her first few obstacles with ease, but when it came to the great wall, she misjudged and plowed through, going out in the first round. Dafydd Brume won, earning a fine nomad saddle that Xoraya recognized as of great value.
As Yelm began to go down, the poetry contest began. Grom was a confident entrant, but Xoraya entered too. First came Gjarmani Truthtalker, noted wandering poet from Adari, who told the tale of how Sartar unified the tribes and lit the flame in Boldhome. This went down very well. Next came Ceadmon the Harper of Waterby, whose harp accompaniment was melodious, but did not rescue his sad tale of the fall of Boldhome. The crowd’s mood was lifted by the Vingan Britgar Speahaft, who used all her beauty and dancing to accompany a ribald tale of how a woman bedded Lunar nobles all the way up to the Red Emperor; after conquering him in bed she was able to bring down the moon. The crowd loved it. They did not love Wahagrim Horsefriend’s song in praise of the Pure Horse People (well, the Pol-Joni loved it, no-one else did). With Britgar clearly highest in the people’s affection (as well as clearly attracting the eye of Caethan), Grom strode to the center of the ring. He told a tale of his adventures into Upland Marsh, and the slaying of terrible undead, emerging victorious. The mixture of terror and boasting, told well, captivated the crowd, and Grom would have emerged victorious, had not Xoraya brought out her dulcimer and played a moving lament for the destruction of her people at the Battle of Bitterstream, coupled with her desire for vengeance. Her beauty swayed Caerthan so much that he adjudged the contest a tie between Grom and Xoraya and asked them to sing again. Instead, Grom announced that he had won his contest that day and would step down. Cearthan applauded the nobility of Grom and said he had anther thing to boast about tonight, then awarded the prize, a splendid Cedarwood Harp, to Xoraya, and hugged her rather more intimately than might be expected from a man about to be married. Caedmon offered her 100L for it on the spot, but she turned him down.
That evening, 100 sheep were slaughtered and the crowd dined on fresh mutton and BEER. As victors, Grom and Xoraya were honored to sit at the table of Griswald Oldoak, a veteran weaponthane of Waterby. Their fellows included Jakk and St’nn, two upright citizens of Waterby who talked amongst themselves, Old Deirik and Astragil of the Pol-Joni, and Salvidienus Cansor, a Lhankor Mhy initiate, on his way to Pavis to deliver some scrolls. Old Deirik quizzed those present on whether they had ever killed a lion. Grom responded that he had killed a Storm Bull beserker of the Rainbow Bison; Deirik responded that he knew well what a great feat this was, because he had once killed two. He then asked if they had ever killed a broo, which neither had ever done, but Grom had slain a ghoul. Deirik had killed two. He then asked how much beer Grom had drunk in an evening. Grom replied none, because of his geas. Deirik could not double that, and Astragil pointed at him and laughed. Xoraya asked Griswald of the people of Pavis, and how they felt about the Lunar occupation. Griswald related the history of the city and the shame they felt at the swift capitulation, combined with the treachery of the Sun Dome Templars. Trusting them both, Griswald told them to look up Krogar Wolfhelm in Pavis.
The next morning, Grom and Xoraya noted how the Storm Bulls were late to rise, and how it was fitting that the archery contest should take place in the morning. Xoraya entered, facing Jode Plumma of Waterby in the first round, and won 8-6, profiting from an errant shot in the final flight where Jode managed to hit Big Hilda, which earned him a box round the ears. In the next round, she faced Allyra Ingilli, a Vingan, and won 12-7, thanks to a bullseye. Next came Sandori Steadfriend, brother of Caerthan, whom she defeated 9-3, to the great disappointment of Caerthan. Then came the Yelmalion Tarvidius Firehawk, who she defeated 5-2 in a contest far worse than expected. In the final she was due to face mysterious stranger Garsting Giorno, ostensibly from Sartar, but Grom noticed him acting oddly and whispering something to his bow. Grom mentioned this to Salvidienus, who cast Detect Magic, revealing that Garsting had illegally cast Speedart. Caerthan slapped Garsting around and hounded him out of town.
Returning, Caertan declared Xoraya again the winner and awarded her a golden arrow, which Grom evaluated as being worth around 500L. She was then approached by Tarvidius, who offered her 50W for the arrow, as it was an item of ritual importance to the Sun Domers. She accepted his price, but it transpired that Tarvidius did not have the money on him. He promised it as soon as Xoraya delivered the arrow to the Sun Dome Temple and swore it on the Truth Rune of his cult. He pointed out, however, that should Xoraya renege on the agreement and not return the arrow by a year’s time, the Sun Domers would not hesitate to take military action.
After a lunch of pork and BEER, Caerthan announced the Hunt. A Wind Lord brought forth a huge broo and announced the Orlanthi poem against chaos to it. He then removed the beast’s chains and whipped it with his spear. The broo ran for cover and disappeared over the hills. The war-whoops started and the hunt began. Xoraya successfully identified the beast’s tracks, then spotted where in the distance it had burst through the bushes. Following the broo’s scent, they came across the creature in a clearing, but were not the first there. Orlanthi warrior Gryffyn Godricson had already found the broo and was about to engage it in hand-to-hand combat. While Grom closed to the range where he could throw his spear, Xoraya let loose a shaft from her bow and criticaled the broo in its left leg. However, something magical about it reduced the damage of the blow and the broo remained standing. It swung at Gryffyn with a large branch it had gathered, and missed. Grom then hurled his spear with all his might, criticalling the monster in the chest. This time the monster fell, but it still breathed. Gryffyn failed to dispatch the beast, and Xoraya’s next shaft killed it.
The three removed the creature’s head with some difficulty and returned to the Stones to great applause, gathering a crowd of other hunters as they went. Caerthan greeted the three conquerors of chaos and presented them with their prize, a fine young Alynx of noble breeding, asking them to decide who earned the full honor. Xoraya said that, though she had slain the creature, and Gryffyn deserved honor for finding the beast first, it was Grom who had done the most to bring down the chaos fiend, so she said he should have the cat. Gryffyn grumbled, but when Caerthan announced that he had earned a place at his table during the wedding feast, he seemed mollified. Cearthan announced once again that Orlanthi honor and nobility had been satisfied, and this was a good omen for his marriage.