he sun dawned over the small, seaside town of Sandpoint, its warm rays marking the first day of autumn. Despite the early hour, the sounds of rejoicing could be heard throughout the town. It was the opening of the Swallowtail Festival, honoring the goddess Desna and the start of the new season. This year, the festival also celebrated the beautiful reconstruction of the Cathedral of Desna.
I found myself in the town square in front of the new building where a stage and been built. Behind the stage sat a collection of local notables, quietly conversing to themselves. As the crowd began to murmur impatiently, an elegant woman with short, auburn hair walked onto stage. A hush fell over the crowd and Mayor Kendra Deverin began her speech. She spoke eloquently and light-heartedly, welcoming travelers to Sandpoint and everyone to the festival.
The Mayor ended her short speech by introducing the next speaker, Sheriff Belor Hemlock. After a round of applause, a large, armored man climbed on stage. The sheriff shook the mayor’s hand and cleared his throat before launching into an awkwardly terse speech about the importance of safety during the festival. The curt nod that marked the end of his speech was rewarded with muted applause. Unfazed, he turned to the remaining speakers seated behind and introduced Cyrdak Drokkus, a local playwright and proprietor of the Sandpoint Theater.
An older, brightly dressed man took the stage and winked at the crowd. With a practiced flourish, Drokkus introduced his new play, the Harpy’s Curse, to the eager audience. Apparently it would be opening soon at the Sandpoint Theater. The crowd cheered as he finished his speech. As Drokkus began descending the stage, a perceptive observer could notice that he seemed surprised that it was Father Zantus who then took the stage. Perhaps another speaker had not appeared?
Ignoring Drokkus’ puzzled look, Father Zantus, wearing the ceremonial robes of a priest of Desna, smiled as he stepped forward. He motioned for the crowd to calm down and gave a short speech thanking the town for their help in rebuilding the cathedral. He ended with a reminder that everyone should return to the town square at sundown for the ceremonial release of the swallowtail butterflies. The rest of his words, if any, were drowned out by the cheers of the crowd as they moved into the festival in all directions.