Dire DM (+2 HD and a rend attack
- Aug 10, 2011
[HEADING=1]Act 1, Scene 1: El Año Nuevo[/HEADING]*Image property of Eksafael on Deviantart
Our story begins in northeastern Castille, in the area known as Rancho Soldano. Nestled within the far western cradle of La Selva de Fendes on the banks of the great River (the largest waterway on the continent) is the city of Altamira. It is the eve of the New Year - El Año Nuevo, as the Castillians call it - and every part of the city is celebrating in grand style.
The docks are filled with ships from almost every nation; from Avalon sloops to Vodacce caravels. As Altamira is a famous trade city, its population is always a diverse mix of local and international merchants and sailors. What makes tonight unique is the sheer number of visitors strolling around and adding to mix.
The district directly off the docks, El Paseo Largo - "The Long Walk" - is alive with activity. Parades have been the attraction here all day; closing the shops, merchant courtyards, and flea markets as people gather in throngs to participate in the fun. Tonight there is plenty of music, drinking, dancing, food, and fireworks along the city streets.
Giant bonfires can be found on almost every corner, symbolizing a fresh start for the year to come. This is especially true at La Vengaza - the local bullfighting arena - where two dozen fires have made things almost as bright as day. The daring (and beautiful) matadora, Alicia Zaneta de Lazaro, is performing here until sunrise, pitting her skills against some of the most dangerous bulls ever corralled. Fans and gamblers alike bought every seat in the stadium weeks ago, and their cheers echo for blocks around. Tonight, there is standing room only.
Gamblers and party-goers have also gathered at the Guild of San Marcos; the local branch of the Swordsman's Guild entrusted to handle matters in Castille, Montaigne, Vodacce, and Eisen. Tonight, Eduardo Montevada, the proprietor, is staging exhibitions and contests between swordsmen from all over Théah, promising an exquisite sword of Soldano steel to the winner.
And then there is the spectacle over at La Universidad de Arciniega. While having gained some notoriety since its founder and former headmaster, Alvara Arciniega, fled from the Inquisition as a heretic, it is still a place of ornate beauty. Never has this been truer than tonight. La Trinidad, the university's one hundred and fifty-foot tall cathedral, is adorned with lanterns, and each of its three separate bell towers softly tolls for the event going on below. Fortunado Alfonzo Cortez de Cordoba, a man whose commercial and money-lending interests have shaped modern Castille's economy, has spared no expense for the wedding of his only daughter to the only nephew of Master Red, head of the Moneylenders Guild and influential member of the Vendel League. The wedding is, without question, the social event of the season, and tonight reputations are being made and broken with the drop of a casual but well-placed word.
Yet, not all in the crowd are here to celebrate the New Year. The Inquisition stalks the streets in surprising force; watching for any signs of heresy. City guards too wander the streets, keeping an eye out for thieves - of which there are many - taking advantage of the crowd. A surprisingly large number of the revelers - perhaps aware of the thief threat - are armed.