The town bell rings, letting all within earshot know that the Festival is beginning in earnest. The ringing carries across the calm surface of the river and up into the hills – stragglers still making the last few miles of the trek to Jamestown quicken their step, smiles on their faces as they nostalgically think of the old bard's tale about the Feasting with the Bells of the Jamestown Festival.
Closer to the city which grew from a fishing village into a rich coastal port, we see the colourful flags of Harvest and the Grunite Kingdoms banner cheerfully whipping in the breeze, the sun and clear sky painting the picture of a perfect day. This first day of the festival will be clear – no storm clouds on the horizon and the ocean peaceful.
The babble of talk, song and laughter resound through the stone and cobble streets, with the uncommon sight of unshuttered windows and open doors. The fresh enticing smells of baking spiced fruit bread from the first fruits of the Harvest hang in the air, and children run and play underfoot as their parents or wards keep watch, sparkling ciders and ales in hand.
The mood isn't all bright – the parents keep a noticeably keen eye on their children, years of disappearances and other strange happenings not quite forgotten even in this impossibly good-spirited place. Seen in the alleys and atop the walls and garrison roofs are a large portion of town guard, supplemented by a regiment from Madron-don. The soldiers from the capital are not the black and red cloaked elite from the border, but their grim-set jaws indicate no sense of the joy of this place – only the tension of years of struggling to keep the peace. A keen eye will note that the military force here is far greater than what a first glance might reveal. The garrisons have only a score of men at arms, but the barracks stables are overflowing with what must be more than 100 warhorses.
These numbers pale in comparison to the sheer amount of pilgrims now filling the city, with every tavern at standing room only, no-vacancy signs hastily hung at doors. Entrepreneurs were renting any space available to the tourists, and the beachfront was its own sea of tents and bivouacs.
You find yourself having just arrived recently in the city in the market square. It has been cleared of all of the stalls for this day, a small riser built out of timber with two guards standing to attention, surveying the crowd. As the bell finishes ringing, a portly dwarf climbs the stairs to the riser, steps in front of the guards, and addresses his audience with a surreal booming voice.
"Travellers, Pilgrims, Visitors and Townsfolk alike, let me welcome you to the first revival of the Jamestown Inaugural Harvest Festival!" His next words are lost in the roaring and cheering, as the people carry on with their general merriment, focussed in on this centre stage.
"..From all around have come this week to gather our harvest – Jamestown, nay, Grunite's most prosperous Harvest in living memory!"
There was more cheering from the crowd, they were rife with excitement – the seething masses of people swelling and rolling in a tidal crush. Incomprehensible shouts and cheering mix together and again drown out the speaker, who raises his voice – thunderous and now almost deafening.
"So glad we are the people of Jamestown to welcome you to join us in celebrating our Harvest. Please stay civil, spend your coin well and wisely, and bring news of the things you witness here in Jamestown to all corners of the lands!"
The screaming crowd is elevated, the banging of fists on chests, the stamping of feet on the stones, and the smug look on the speakers face changes only a moment after that of the guards behind him – they draw their swords moments apart and crouch. Those closer to the stage see this and stop revelling – looking for a would-be assassin, the speaker statuesque on stage.
There, at the back of the crowd – the screaming and yelling and bashing, previously lost in the muddle of revelry is now clearer. The sun now beating down in the middle of the day, the flash of a bloody sword is glimpsed atop the crowd. Panic sets in and the crush of people begin to stampede as guards and soldier try in vain to push against the flow of the crowd to whatever is going on.