Celebrations of Stephensday commenced early. Men strolled around in the dresses and ladies lounged in their men’s clothing. Tables creaked under the weight of drinks and sweets. The anticipated hat contest drew crowds to watch, as contestants paraded a striped canvas runway strewn with flower petals. There were everyday bonnets and kerchiefs, flowered and feathery head wear, hunting trophy hats, a pearly mermaid crown, and even an invisible cap. A panel of judges interviewed the contestants and convened intently to decide which hat was the most “basic”, and which hat was the most “extra.” The winner of the “basic” hat was Edicimoh for his kingly leather cap. The prize for the most “extra” hat was awarded to Earl Aiefen for the masterpiece of green dragon scaled sorcerer head-wear, made by her Squire – Cobweb.
Soon the festivities were interrupted by the arrival of the goddesses of land and sea, come to make their own entertainment of mortals. Barktemis, goddess of the hunt, compelled men to fight three team battles for her favors. Aphroditree, goddess of love and nature love, bestowed a rich dowry upon Earl Aiefen for winning the “extra” hat competition, and worsened the jealous nature of the revelers by striking them with divine devotion. Sodia, the goddess of salt and sea, was soon at odds with Flatula, the goddess of wind, and Saprina, the goddess of wood, over which of the three goddesses was most beautiful; each country was compelled to send forth a representative to deem one of the three the most beautiful. Each goddess who was chosen gloatingly bestowed her favor upon her mortal admirer while the other two gnashed their teeth in fury. Meanwhile, Poisedon had taken up a station by the punch bowl. Revelers partaking in the punch began to experience strange effects. Some saw strange visions or thought themselves to possess powers. Crow of Ralkea warily accepted a glass of punch from Poisedon, and found his already worshipful attitude of Earl Aiefen and her hat magnified beyond his control. He swept her away to the nearby city of Treej, followed by jubilant Ralkean and Tyrcathian revelers.
Desiring Earl Aifen’s hat and her dowry for themselves, the rest of the realm pursued. Ships converged on the shore just outside the walls of the Treej. Ralkea and Tyrcath prepared their armies for siege, and rained ballista bolts and fireballs down on the invaders, but again and again the invaders rushed the shore. One man leading the charge cried aloud his desire for the hat that had launched a thousand ships. Barktemis, Aphroditree, and Saprina egged the defenders on, blessing their favorite devotees, while Sodia, Flatula, and Poisedon administered favors to the most admiring of the invaders. The charge seemed doomed to fail. Half a dozen men went to the ground before Sodia and prayed to her for help, and for a moment, Sodia’s saltiness seemed to falter. She called upon the power of the waves and brought a great tsunami crashing down upon the city, demolishing a stretch of the city’s walls. The invaders rushed in. Although they came close to breaching the tower where Earl Aiefen lay in wait, the tower’s defenses held. The bloody ship and siege battle of the day will be remembered in the memory of immortals as the Treejan War.
The skies opened up, and rain-soaked revelers turned away from the siege and began to return to their homes in befuddlement and wonder at the events of the day. What was real, what was a dream, and what had been in that punch?
Post written by Jackie Coleman
Edits and photography by Marie Lupia