It was over three decades ago that my mother gave birth to me and named me Eva. Her name was Aline Saraiva and claimed to be the bastard daughter of some noble no-one had heard of. My father was any one of several soldiers of the army of Sanhasia whom she took to her bed. Raised amongst soldiers, and by soldiers, there was a lot about the martial life that I learned. But though I was quick and nimble, I never really took to the use of a sword or spear. Instead, I was fascinated by the tales that the veterans would tell about the distant lands they had marched through, from the Cabruacan Marches in the west, to the Khanate of Gurdenia some 4,000km to the far east. This was the extent of our world – all that is left after the gods shattered Azlant.
There were people there from all over the Fallen Kingdoms, and I learned to speak their tongues quickly. It was said that I had a gift for it, and also a mind that picked up remembered stories and a tongue that asked too many questions. It was maybe because of the latter that a priest of the God Emperor found me, and decided to take me to the libraries of Palma to study under him. As a young woman, there were also other things that he wanted me for. But the price I paid was no worse than what would have happened to me anyway had I stayed amongst the soldiers of Sanhasia, and this way I gained access to a world of knowledge and wonder in the grand libraries of the world’s largest city.
What really fascinated me though was the esoteric knowledge of the magical arts, and the various views of those who hadn’t studied under the teachings of the God Emperor. In time, my questions started making people nervous, and before I could learn the arcane secrets I really sought, I realised that it was probably safer for me to leave Palma for a while, and give people a chance to forget. So I set out into the real world, to see whether what was written in my books was really anything like what was actually there.
So after many weeks of travel I now find myself at the town of Swanzi, in the backwaters of Dorlandia, just in time for the wedding between two merchant families. The last few days have been spent travelling with an elven mercenary named Calthar Jernau, a rather small and uncheerful woman who seems to be unimpressed with human culture. However, given the nature of the roads around here, I was grateful to have the companionship of someone obviously skilled with the sword.
The village itself has a reputation of having once been a pilgrimage site for the church of the God Emperor, which was one reason I had been heading here. There is a hill nearby said to contain a holy cave named the Horned Monk. It was also near here that the village of Vorburg was the focus of an attack by an orc tribe about 12 years ago. So not only is the region of holy significance, but there may be artefacts of an orcish nature nearby as well.
The wedding itself was between Maximillian Stygar, a merchant from the already mentioned village of Vorburg, and Helena, the daughter of Franz, a supplier of boats, ropes and other material of use to traders. They weren’t going to turn away a monk of the God Emperor, so for me it was a chance for some free food and drink.
The wedding ceremony itself was pretty standard, with bride and groom entering the town from opposite sides and meeting in the town square in front of the temple of the God Emperor. They entered the temple, the rites were performed, and then the festivities were begun with much drinking of wine and beer, and eating of food. I must admit that the bride’s family had not held back in providing for their daughter’s festivities.
The bride herself was obviously pregnant, a good sign of fertility for both parties. It is generally considered bad form to marry before pregnancy, since then neither party knows whether the other is fertile.
As well as the elf Calthar, there was another obvious outsider here who looked like he was a viking from the jungles of Solbovia. He was Djarin, and from what I overheard he was a bounty hunter on a mission to find a missing baby.
Another obvious outsider was a very large man named Floquert Meneriere. From what I could gather, he was a prostitute, and seemed to have been selling his services since the previous night.
For the most part I took the time to write up my notes and watch the people in order to get a better feel for the place as the general drunkenness of the party increased. Shortly after I had been speaking to the bride though, who seemed somewhat shy and reserved, a group of young men burst into the hall, grabbed the bride and made off with her. There was much faking of surprise, and I recalled that such antics were common and all part of the event. Shortly thereafter, the groom declared, to much fake horror, that his bride had been taken, and that he would award a rundlet of wine to the first person who could find her.
I did go and look, but was beaten to it by Floquert who seemed to know exactly where to go to. I suspect that he had obtained inside information.
Sometime later, there was the ringing of a bell and a cry of “It is the Race!”. The single women ran outside and started going through sacks which contained cabbages and turnips. Having a fairly good idea about what would come next, I decided to not take part. Usually in these things, the single men and women team up, and whoever wins the race get to ‘marry’ each other for the night. Any issue of that marriage is considered to be blessed.
Both Floquert and Djarin took part, and each was grabbed by a lady who rode on their backs armed with sacks of cabbage to use as ammo against the other competitors. Like myself, Calthar decided not to take part, except to try and organise cabbage throwing from the crowd to see how many of the competitors she could knock down.
The two outsiders were the finalists in the race, with Djarin making it across the finishing line with his ‘rider’ Francine just a moment before Floquert and his rider Molly. The two winners collapse to the ground in a heap of bruises and kissing.
Later that evening, a rather drunken Floquert tried to chat me up, but he really isn’t my type – way too drunk and not very educated. I made my excuses and left, and on the way out of the hall I overheard an argument between Maximillian and Franz. They spotted me and quickly headed off into the town, but I took another route around the buildings and catch up with them when they think they aren’t being overheard.
It seems that Franz was both very drunk, and also incredibly upset with his new son-in-law. He says something like “I could have given her to anyone, but you promised me your best prospects. My friends warned me about you. I’m going to sue you, and make sure Helena divorces you, and your child will have nothing, unless the bride token is delivered.”
It appeared to me that Franz really didn’t care about his daughter, or the marriage, to him it was probably just a convenient business arrangement. Not too unusual amongst people of such standing. Though Max seemed to be at least trying to give the impression of caring about his new bride, I believe that it’s very much just a business arrangement to him as well. Max also seemed seriously disturbed about something, and I got the feeling that whatever has gone wrong with the deal may not be entirely under his control.
At this point I was low on money, and was looking for a way to help fund my further travels, so I decided to walk out and see whether I could help them seek a solution to their problems. There was always a chance of physical endangerment, but I had spotted that Calthar seemed to be nearby and listening in as well, and if she was a mercenary then she may be on the lookout for a job as well.
Player’s Notes: This was our first game session of Zweihänder, which was very much an introductory scenario which had the aim of introducing us players to the various rules of the system. So far we had the race mechanics (for the cabbage race) and I guess basic skill checks and intoxication. The next part will be the ‘social combat’ rules, which will have to wait until next session. It was a fun session, and so far the system seems relatively sane and simple. I’ll probably add more notes on the rules in later sessions.