The Edge of Empire
Festival of Lanterns
Each year, at summer’s end, the swamp village of Llorkh has its Festival of Lanterns.
People come from up and down the river to trade wares, entertain, be entertained, eat good food and generally socialize. The boardwalks, boats, and buildings are adorned with paper lanterns containing specially formulated candles that are brought in by priests from Waterdeep.
The town swells in population during this time and is converted from a dreary, bug-eaten, mildewed cesspool of a village into a slightly less dreary, bug-eaten, mildewed cesspool of a village. It serves as a financial boon to the little town and provides a break from the townsfolk’s otherwise monotonous existence.
But Hosvir heard a story from old Cher Nettles that hints at a deeper purpose for the festival.
According to the old woman, Llorkh is an ancient town that once fell under the rule of the fell wizard Skoulos. The town made a deal with Skoulos for its own protection, that Skoulos would leave Llorkh be, if Llorkh provided one young man or woman each year for Skoulos’s army.
And so it went, for hundreds of years. But the wizard Skoulos was betrayed by an ally and died. Eventually, Llorkh forgot its bargain, though Skoulos’s magic was strong. Still, a man or woman each year disappeared from Llorkh. Llorkh just didn’t know why.
Eventually, the people of Llorkh sought help from a priest. The priest gave them a way to protect themselves from the Wizard’s magic. Every year, they had to have a festival. But it’s been so long now. The festival remains, but no one remembers why they have it, or what would happen if they didn’t. Maybe nothing would. After all, Skoulos has been dead for probably a thousand years.