Kitsune made her way out of the mines of Aughundell. Her fine elven features are caked with dirt, but under the grime is a small, determined smile. Her cargo disk is filled to the brim with precious metals, making each step a battle to keep moving. The gems stuffed into her pack and overflowing from the bags at her sides weigh her down further, but the profit she hopes to make from a certain Saris jeweler keeps her motivated. "This time," she whispers to herself, "This time she'll buy it all. I just know it." As she crests the final hill, she looks down at the road below. Hope rises inside her because she knows if she can just get her load to the road, traveling will be faster and easier.
As her eyes focus on the road below, she stumbles to an abrupt halt, unable to believe what she sees. She pulls a worn ironsilk glove off her hand and rubs her tired eyes. She tells herself that when she opens them again, all she’ll see is the empty road. Hesitantly, she cracks one eye open. The brightly colored shapes are still there, and so are the moving figures on the road below. Hundreds of figures of all shapes and sizes move along the road and fill the valley below Aughundell, looking, from her distant vantage point, like ants at a picnic.
Her weariness forgotten, she grounds her cargo disk and runs down the hill, her mind whirling with wonder at the sights before her. She reaches the crowd quickly and falls into step alongside a dwarven mother with young child. Everyone is moving quickly, but the air is tinged with excitement rather than fear.
"M'lady, why for your haste?" she asks the dwarven woman.
"Ha' ye not 'eard, lassie? Hammer’s Rest 'as returned at last to Aughundell!! 'Tis a glorious day!”
Kitsune moves aside to allow travelers to pass. She is still confused, but the dwarf's excitement had piqued her curiosity. Hammer's Rest had not been celebrated in Aughundell for nigh on a century. What could possibly have caused the festival to return now? She shakes her head, wondering to herself if all dwarvenkind had gone mad.
But as she stands beside the road, she sees that it wasn't just dwarves who are heading to the city. Saris, gnomes, sslik, humans... members of all the Living Races of Istaria seemed to be flowing into the great dwarven city. A growing tumult of conversation surround the young elf and she cocks her head, listening to what the passers-by are saying and trying to make sense of it.
"I hear they’re selling some new ales!" a huge half-giant beams to his companion.
"Aye, and kegs to keep it in as well," replies the fiendish woman. “We build one on your land first, in case there are any mistakes. The ones on my land will be perfect, or else!” The two of them break into laughter as they move on.
"Is it true that Durgan Stonecleaver hi’self is comin’, momma?" A young human lad with hero worship in his eyes looks around hopefully, pressing close to his mother as they pass. A group of rowdy gnomes singing at the top of their lungs prevents Kitsune from hearing the mother's answer. She smiles to herself at the song they sing, remembering the last time she'd heard it: sipping hot Ribeth sake in the upper taproom of the Bitter Pickle, surrounded by good friends and merry music, celebrating her first Hammer's Rest more than a century ago. All but two of those friends are long gone now, and her eyes sting with tears at the memories.
She looks up the hill at the walls of Aughundell and listens intently. The forges are indeed silent. It is true, then. Hammer's Rest has returned to Aughundell and it seems that everyone in Istaria has been invited to join the celebration. She steps into the crowd and lets it carry her towards the tents, where cold ale and a toast to absent friends await her.
Horizons: Empire of Istaria Event details here: http://community.istaria.com/news/?id=231