Send in the Clowns

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I spent the morning looking for a dress. I know that I purchased a dress yesterday for the Baron’s ball, but there’s another party tonight that is being hosted by Jarl Sten Skardesson, and it occurred to me that it may be considered a social faux pas to wear the same dress on both evenings. I’m not sure how these nobles can stay rich with all the money they need to spend on frivolous finery.

I decided to get a much simpler dress for tonight, a simple red dress which is pretty much off the shelf and cost a ‘mere’ 5 gold. Whilst on the way to the dress shop I noticed that the atmosphere of the city was somewhat strained – everyone seemed nervous and the streets were emptier than expected. From what I could gather something bad had happened down at the fish market.

Since returning to the inn for lunch, both Calthar and Djarin have been able to fill me in on what had happened. There were a lot of dismembered corpses a the fish market, and when they got there the bodies were being tidied up. According to witnesses, sea monsters had come up from the river and started attacking everybody, though the descriptions of them had been a bit confused.

One person thought they were women dressed up, and there were booted foot prints as well. Though bodies had been torn in half or had been left with deep claw marks, it was possible that the attackers had been just people wearing clawed weapons of some kind. The attack had happened just before sunrise, so it had been dark and difficult to see, so I guess anything is possible.

There had been around half a dozen of the attackers, and they each dragged off a couple of people back to the sewers. So the obvious thing for us to do is to go into the sewers and try and follow up on it.

Given that it is already early afternoon, we’ve probably just got enough time to get changed, have a run through the sewers, and then get back in time for a bath and change for the reception with Jarl Sten Skardesson. I’ve asked the innkeeper to get some baths ready.

So it turns out that Calthar had some dancing lessons which she couldn’t possibly miss, plus she wanted to try and ensure that we’d get paid for our excursion. Captain Sarkas wasn’t able to promise us anything and by the time that Calthar had returned from trying to argue about changing around her dance lessons it as mid-afternoon. Neither Djarin nor myself are particularly happy about the idea of delving into the sewers without Calthar, so the expedition is cancelled.

Last night was definitely an experience. I wore the red dress, as well as my holy symbol and the Baron’s medallion. When we arrived at the White Orchid, we were met with men in powdered wigs, very much in the Hesbian style. We were shown up to the first floor, where there was plenty of food and drink available – though it was all strange bite sized chunks and small glasses, which put Djarin into a bit of a foul mood.

I wandered into the dance hall, in order to leave it to fate as to whether I had to dance or not. Before long a young man, moderately attractive and well dressed, asked me for a dance and I accepted, though I had to warn him that this was my first time.

He actually demonstrated a decent education and we had an interesting discussion whilst I managed to avoid embarrassing myself. There were several more dances, mostly with older gentlemen but also with a woman. People seemed curious about me since a priestess of the church wasn’t what anyone was expecting to find here.

After the dancing, the main entertainment of the evening was unfortunately begun. There had been a lot of activity hidden behind a set of curtains on the main stage, and they were opened to reveal a gaudily dressed man who seemed to mostly consist of an enormous wig and golden garments. This was Jarl Sten Skardesson.

His idea of high entertainment was an evening of poetry and philosophy, as read by himself. Whilst I’d normally be accepting of such a decision, it turned out that what the Jarl had really been missing from his upbringing was some good constructive criticism. I did at one point consider whether chewing my leg off would be preferable to his poetry, which was a bad translation of old classes mixed into multiple languages in an attempt to make himself look educated. His philosophy was equally wrong and badly presented.

For most of the time he was accompanied by mimes – I’m not entirely sure what they were meant to be doing – and a young man who enthusiastically clapped whenever there was a pause in the flow of garbage that issued from the Jarl’s mouth. Eventually some clowns came onto the stage and began a show of uncultured slapstick humour, something that was utterly preferable to what had come before.

At some point in the evening, Djarin had made for the exits which were being politely blocked by the Jarl’s servants. Politely, because they stood aside when Djarin showed no sign of ceasing his attempt at an exit in the direction of the bar downstairs. Djarin did what others had wanted to do but hadn’t had the courage to be the first, so he was quickly followed by a flood of distressed nobles.

It may have been possible to feel sorry for the Jarl as his audience began to exit the room before the completion of his performance. It may have been, but I didn’t.

Calthar also left as soon as the clowns came in – the idea of humour is something Lubechians find offensive.

After the ‘entertainment’ the Jarl did the rounds. Though most people seemed to be trying to avoid him I was quite happy to talk to him. He talks a bit about his views on history, and I do try pushing back a bit to point out his mistakes but he isn’t interested.

We left the party some time later. Hopefully I’d managed to make a good impression amongst the people I met – I’m not certain yet why I wanted to do that, but it might turn out to be useful later if anything exciting happens over the next few days.

Today is the last day before the opening ball for the Baron’s conclave. I have had a bath and have my new dress ready. Time to head up to the castle for the big night.

Samuel Penn