The Yule season used to mean huddling around small fires in Angmare. Survival, not festivities, was the focus. Here, though, at Thane Morgan's, it was warm, there was food and everything made festive by the decorations.
I tried, again, to convince Thalia to not bring up her plans to… well, plans that are best not talked about around the human king or Thane Morgan or, anyone, really. She seems to enjoy arguing, though, and her Elven ways make our 'cultural differences' - as Lydiah puts it - difficult to explain.
Thane Morgan greeted us with a few of her 'ladies in waiting' - a social position I'd not even known about before. They were pretty, but didn't seem to do much. I could tell the Thane was uneasy with the non-humans in our group. She was a gracious host, nonetheless. While we waited for the king, there was food and drink.
I was grateful when Lydiah stepped in to help me in talking to Thalia, Lila, and their friend we met on the way, Imra. As two elves and a Felinian, they were understandably leery of King Dunnegan. Meeting him would eventually prove to change their minds. For a while, though, we had to coach them on what they could and could not talk about around him.
Thalia keeps trying to tell me it was a mistake to make her deputy. Maybe it will be. Even though she's older than me, (elves live a very long time), she seems like a child at times. An orphaned child. Maybe it's her ignorance of human customs that makes her seem child-like. The same is true of Lila. Still, dubious though they may be, I know their natural instincts can be beneficial to everyone in Shawnee if pointed in the right direction. I'm not unfamiliar with redirecting selfish and unscrupulous people into benefiting a larger group. Back in Angmare, focusing the twins took some time. It's a matter of finding what motivates them and then showing them how using their talents to help the group will also help themselves.
When King Dunnegan arrived, he first wanted to speak to the town officials present about things in Shawnee. We took turns. Lydiah, Orion and myself were the only town officials present. I believe we were able to give the king the information he wanted - and clear up a few questions he and the Thane had. He then spoke to the others. Lydiah and I are very proud of Thalia and Lila. They managed to not get themselves into any trouble, though there were a few tense moments.
Good King Dunnegan. The title seems to fit. Maybe it was the Yule season, or maybe he is commonly informal. Either way, he was kind to us and willing to listen when we had things to say. Thane Morgan also seemed to grow accustomed to our non-human citizens. I overheard her say they weren't as "evil" as she had thought at first. That's progress.
We had a very informal 'tournament' of sorts. First to five touches were the rules. Lydiah did rather well for a while. There were other amusements available on the Thane's estate. A slide, as one might find for children, worked just as well for adults. A board fastened to a bar at the middle and able to tilt up and down was also fun. To watch - fun to watch.
Not everything was light, however. Inside, we were told about reports of a man on the loose who laughs a lot, but kills young women. I suspect who this might be, but we didn't say anything about it to the king or the Thane.
King Dunnegan saw fit to do us a couple of favors. Shawnee will get to keep three moons of its own taxes, to be added to the town's coffers. Those who participated in the tournament will be allowed to skip, (once and only once), their taxes for one moon of their choosing in the new cycle. Those people are: Lydiah, Damien, Orion, Thalia, Midi, and Yukishio.
There was dancing and time for telling stories. I surprised even myself by dancing with Thane Morgan. Orion has… interesting ideas of how to dance by himself - it was entertaining, anyway. Other's also danced, including the King.
The King also saw fit to make Lydiah and myself full council members of Shawnee, and not merely fill-ins. This brings the total number of council members to five. King Dunnegan directed that he would supply an additional two gems for myself and Lydiah each moon for holding two jobs. Our normal 5-gem payment will still come from what Shawnee is able to make in a given moon.
In order to use town funds for any research ventures, we must have clear goals established. The Thane also added she could support research if it is known what we will do and how it could economically benefit the town, and therefore her lands. Learning new/better medicines from the local plants, as one example. We will need to work these kinds of things out together once we are back in Shawnee.
Thane Morgan promised to send us people we may learn from - healing, magic, etc. King Dunnegan also directed the Thane to visit Shawnee four times per cycle. I think that one surprised her.
Knowing Jean would want to research any gnomish devices we find, I asked the King what we were allowed to do with such things. By his order, we can research the gnomish devices, provided the following conditions are met: anything learned is to be reported to Sir Kilpatrick and/or Thane Morgan, and the devices must be destroyed afterwards. Given how gnomish technology seems to explode on its own, this shouldn't be a problem.
We rounded out the evening with a meal and some other festivities. Games, including one we know from Shawnee - drinking harmless, random potions. There were also language lessons for those who wished to learn a language or two.
Our visit was… good. We are on the road back to Shawnee. Lydiah has mentioned more than once that we should teach the Kobolds how to fight and read… I'm not sure how the fighting part would go. I'll think about it on the way home.