As the gallows and the unfortunates burn, Herm notices that it starts to burn hotter and faster than expected. He investigates, but there’s nothing particularly arcane about the fire.
Talhier picks up a sword and hears a voice in his head. “oooohey. Are you my new daddy?" It’s basically the guy from My Cousin Vinnie. He wants to stab things. Those people downstairs. That guy over there. The sword has a name! It’s “Penetrator.” It invites Talhier to do some penetrating. Talhier has bound the sword to himself and would very much like the sword to stop talking. Penetrator thinks that guy across the street, with the limp, would great to stab. Talhier attempts to un-attune from the sword. Penetrator want to penetrate that goat.
Herm notices that Talhier appears to be talking to himself and runs over to say, “Oh, you too!” They compare “voices in my head” experiences.
Talhier unattunes. He has a moment of blessed silence and then…”do you think it worked?”
Talhier heads to the forge, where Ayla and Assana are day drinking. Crea is helping out Aelric catch up on work. Talhier tries to get them to melt the sword. After some argument, Aelric finally does so. He fires up the forge and gets it hot with the plan to fold it over a bunch into scrap. He brings over the tongs and hammer but attempts to fold it over itself just…don’t work. It pops back into place. Now its a battle of wills between Talhier and Penetrator.
Crea asks Aelric if he’s familiar with Vora of Fairhill. Aelric has, they are the best blacksmith in the area. She asks if they’d be willing to take on a journeyman, Aelric is unsure, but thinks it’s likely. Crea will have to spend a year and a half or so learning under an Artisan, then again a set number of years and create a Masterpiece, to get to Master Blacksmith. Crea asks some questions about Fairhill, which is back east past Grassmere by about 5 days/100 miles. She also makes a few discrete inquiries about purchasing the Golden Grain. The alderman tells her that, if we are interested in taking over the lease (it all belongs to the local Lord), we’d have to go to Sodor to talk to the liege lord there and go through political channels. He’s ball parking it to be a couple thousand gold.
Cael has been meditating in the grove and reflecting on the guy she recognized in the fight in the caves. She hears a voice from the side and behind say, “Greetings, Mother.” (apparently, all women are referred to as “mother” in her culture) She turns to see a feminine figure, a fae of some kind, standing near the Mallorn tree. “Does the war still rage?” she asks. “The war against the great enemy, the killer who decimated our people.” Cael drops the symbol that that man she recognized carried and asks if that’s what the fae is talking about. The fae never stops touching the tree as she leans over and says, “Yes, the hated one.” Cael says that she continues to search. The fae says, “then I shall keep my watch” and spider-climbs up the tree. Cael erases the symbol and heads back into her day.
After the night of the execution, a fairly intense storm rolls through. We transition now to longer down time tracking.
Everyone seems like they are on board with Project Clubhouse. Bingo still wants to raise an army, or possibly call a meteor strike, onto Terelle to get his magic horn back. Cael is thinking about returning to the woods, possibly with Nyla, to find out more about what happened to that guy. Crea is sending to Vora to see if they can take on a journeyman. Nyla tries to build her relationship with Red so he can either be chill about her going to Sodor for a while, or becoming a pet. He’s very adverse to coming close to any kind of civilization.
After some discussion, Nyla comes up with the idea that we should teach Red to hunt, since he never got that on his own. It took some doing, but he started to catch on kinda. After a few weeks, he is finally able to bring down a deer.
Nessie has her own training montage with Sebastian. She learns his favorite foods, trains him to climb into her beard to ride around, etc.
On the way to Sodor, Cael and Bingo drop some coins in certain hands to create a bit of an information network of their own. Bingo wants to find out as much as he can about the merchant (Krynt Stavenger) who had the magic trumpet last. He also talks to Issana about her breaking and entering experience. Between them, they find out he’s got a reputation as a legit business man, not very mobbed up at all, generally well regarded. It’s unclear how devoted he is to The Anointed and how much is him going along with the prevailing winds. He is also known to collect ancient artifacts and in particular musical instruments. His business dealings are pretty clean and there’s slight rumors of an affair, but mostly he seems clean. Issana and Bingo are thinking heist.
Cael, with Issana’s help again, hears things from Fairhill and points east. Stories of people matching descriptions of Snake Elf Guy coming through the Green Sea, heading this way. People found him unsettling. She hears something I didn’t catch about an inn called The Yellow Hammer in Nineveh. She considers heading towards Niniveh, but she’d like some help. So she’s not going yet. Crea, however, is heading east for Fairhill and might be willing to accompany her.
There’s a summer festival surrounding the summer solstice coming up, and everyone in town is insistent that we either stay through or return for Pinnacle. Each day of this festival has a ritual and a theme. First they clear the area near the temple for the festival. On the second and third days, the women of the town make long, thick strips of leather with seeds pressed into them. Eventually these get tied to the top of a giant maypole looking thing. Over the next few days, the seeds start to sprout and the strips grow a fuzzy, mossy, lightly flowered strips. Village children to an elaborate dance, weaving the strips together and around. By the end of the festival, the entire pole is covered in greenery and flowers. The villagers explain that this is all an offering to Iyana, Goddess of the Harvest. This is super emotional for people, bc the cult wouldn’t let them do it last year.
Crea thoroughly investigates the whole festival meat-on-a-stick situation, and also providing every passing child with whatever candy is on hand. Issana and Ayla get the band back together and do their old juggling-and-tumbling routine. Cael enters a sharp-shooter contest but doesn’t actually win. Herm…is muttering to himself and taking notes. Even people here, who love us, think he’s weird. Nessie found herself a nice quiet place to greet the sunrise and has made herself a nice little rock alter, but this whole festival is making her miss her own patron. She enters a drinking contest and makes it to the finals against Darius the local tank. Final round: Lier, a clearish goats-milk based stuff that Crea recognizes from back home. Darius passes out and Nessie wins…and then passes out herself. Nyla joins in the animal judging and awards Best Chicken to a random cat. Bingo networks with the local and visiting bards, then spends his evenings drunk and screwing up the new songs he’s learned. Bingo invents a mashup. Bingo meets a Dwarven bard, who calls himself a Skald even, who refuses to teach him the songs of his people—and ends up in a kind of battle of the bands with the skald…who somehow ends up being kinda terrible.
After the trial, Teagan lays low for a few days, then starts pitching in with rebuilding and repair efforts. By the time the festival rolls around, he’s taking part in all the pre-festival events. Crea buys him a turkey leg.
As the festival comes to a close, Herm runs up to Bingo, papers flying everywhere. He slams them down in front of Bingo and yells “I’VE DONE IT! I HAVE THE PERFECT PLAN.” He shows Bingo an elaborate map and table and lines and basic gibberish. “I’TS THE HIEST!” I cannot possibly convey the actual plan Kolt came up with, it was brilliant. It will definitely help Bingo get back his sacred viola/french horn/tuba/piccolo.