The Midsummer Conspiracy (Sign-Ups, OOC)

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The Midsummer Conspiracy (Sign-Ups, OOC)

Post  Mercutio on Mon Oct 28, 2013 10:59 pm

"By royal decree of His Royal Majesty, King Terenas Menethil, second of his name, the proud citizens of Lordaeron are to pay an additional levied tax on income, tobacco, dwarven ale, midnight ink, wool and silk cloths, iron, and grain, until the time the orcish Horde is apprehended once again. This fee is to ensure the continued security of our internment camps and to aid in the capture of wanted orcish fugitives. Those seeking to pay their tax directly...”



Magistrate Hawthorne wiped the sweat from his brow as he read the parchment, uncertain if it was the hot summer air or the weight of the letter pressing on his mind. The provisions listed stretched on, detailing that the taxes were to be preferably paid in silver coins, the times the taxes would have to be paid, and other menial yet crucial details. Eventually he just handed the decree over to his assistant, Patricia O’reilly, who, understanding his fatigue, took it and left his office without a word.

Word of this had already gotten out to the people. In his office, he could hear them gathering at the steps of Stratholme’s town hall, their anger palpable as their cries were audible. Standing up and pushing the curtains aside, he looked down upon them from his window. Staring back were countless glares, filling the square below. A lake of dagger-like eyes.

The notice had been posted all about the city, and the tax collectors were already collecting. The people outside had no doubt gathered in outrage of the new costs levied upon them so lightly. How could they not be? For many years after the end of the Second War, the people had been required to pay for the imprisonment of their enemies rather than their swift and final execution. Now this “new” Horde has freed many of the captives and were running amok in the highlands, while the Lordaeron armies went around trying to round them up and keeping the others locked up. This resulted in increased costs to the people, culminating in this new tax. The timing couldn’t be worse, either. The heat of summer no doubt kindled the frustration.

“Sir?”

Hawthrone turned around to see his attendant, Garren, standing with tray in hands, holding up a tea pot and a cup.

“I brought your tea, milord.”

“Ah.” Hawthorne put the crowd out of mind and nodded to the lad. “Thank you, lad.”

Setting the tray down on the desk, Garren took the pot and poured some sweet tea, Hawthorne’s favorite. Setting the notice down on the table, the magistrate sat and took his cup, gently lifting it to his lips and taking small sips.

“Are you alright, milord? It seems that recently you’ve been burdened.”

Hawthorne lowered his cup, not allowing his eyes to meet Garren when he spoke. “When I was appointed Stratholme’s magistrate, I saw it as an honor. A reward for years spent in the king’s service, for my days on the field of battle. An opportunity to serve my homeland, mete out the king’s justice and maintain order.

“But these past few years have aged me almost as much as the wars. I look down from my office, and I see people who blame me for their misfortunes, be it the taxes, conscription, or poverty. There’s bitter talk, of corrupt nobility, lazy soldiers, the list goes on and on.”

“Milord, the people will always have their troubles. You can’t let that get to you.”

“Easier said than done, boy,” the magistrate said gloomily. “Governing a people that hates you is no small task. I’m going to have to go out there and face the crowd eventually. For that reason, I envy your position, lad.”

Garren gave Hawthorne a quizzical look, confused. With a smile, the magistrate decided to elaborate.

“Your only concern with all these politics is that you help clean the paperwork on my desk, keep my office tidy, and bring me nice hot tea. None of this civil unrest nonsense. A nice, simple life.”

Garren couldn’t help but give a chuckle. “If you insist, milord.”

“I do,” Hawthorne quipped back in good humor. With that, he returned his attention to his tea, drinking until the cup was empty, savoring its sweetness. “Well, I’d rather face this crowd rested than tired.”

“Milord, might I suggest perhaps mentioning the Midsummer Festival? It’s coming up, and perhaps a celebration could distract the people from all this nasty business.”

Hawthorne looked back at Garren, just a little bit surprised by the suggestion, but quickly bore a smile. “You’ve got a good mind for people, Garren. Perhaps one of these days you’ll care to give this magistrate business a try, and I’ll be the one serving you tea.”

“I don’t think I’d be as suited to the position as you’d think,” Garren said modestly. “It just seems like a good idea, is all.”

Hawthorne could have always hired a simple yes-man for Garren’s position, but he enjoyed these discussions. Timid as the boy was, he was fairly insightful and always good company. His sweet tea was also second to none, something that the magistrate held invaluable. He had the feeling he’d need that tea later today, though.



As the door opened, the shouts of the crowd crescendoed. Hawthorne gathered his breath and stepped through, followed by Garren. The gathered peasants furiously voiced their discontent, held back by the city guards. Captain Albarn, a decorated veteran from the wars, stood not far from Hawthorne, armor-clad arms crossed, sea-green eyes maintaining a fierce and protective watch over the magistrate and the crowd. The gaze alone was enough to deter untoward behavior, Hawthorne reckoned. Well, particularly untoward behavior, at the very least.  

Hawthorne patiently raised his hands to the crowd, gesturing for a moment of silence so that he might address their concerns. It was slow, but the people eventually relented, allowing Hawthorne to actually hear his thoughts. Taking a breath and bracing himself, the magistrate spoke.

“People of Stratholme and Lordaeron! Know that I am not unaware of your plight, nor do I weigh it lightly. These are trying times for Lordaeron, and indeed all human kingdoms. These taxes are the last thing I’d have wished upon you. But it is unfortunate that they are a necessary burden if we are to maintain peace and order throughout the realm. This new Horde is still rampant, and we need to support our soldiers in securing…”

“Why haven’t the orcs been dealt with by now? Can’t our soldiers deal with ragtag orcs?”

“They should’ve been killed when we had the chance! We had to pay for their survival, and look where that got us!”

“We have no more to give to our kingdom! You’ve taken it all!”

“The nobles have more money than we ever could! Tax them!”

That and more flooded Hawthorne’s ears, unable to perceive every bit of rage and objection the crowd had risen. Most of it was more or less pure outrage expressed in simple boos and shouts. He once again waved his hand about, hoping to calm the crowd at least by half.

“Your kingdom asks much of you, I know! Which is why it’s my hope to reward you for your loyalty.”

The crowd began to quiet now, the interest of the masses piqued by the talk of rewards.

“As you know, in three days’ time, the Midsummer Fire Festival shall commence. A time meant to ward off the evils in the world with the Light. It has also become a time of great festivity, with fantastic fireworks and a variety of foods to feast on.

“In the spirit of both allaying our curses and celebrating our blessings, in addition to the regular festivities, there shall be a tournament! Contests of archery, melee, and jousting, held for all our benefits, and to some, profit! And on the final day of the festival, we will light the night sky with an aurora of fireworks!”

The dimming anger, the murmuring of the crowds, it was the sign Hawthorne was looking for, as reserves of energy and charisma that he had long forgot he even possessed now sparked anew.

“To reward you for your patience and loyalty to Lordaeron, I shall give to you a Midsummer Festival unlike any that have come before, and unlike any that will soon come after!”  

At this, the crowd erupted into a cheer, the prospect of grandiose festivities and entertainment filling their souls. The tournament itself would bring in business to the taverns and with a modest entry fee would be able to help cover the expenses. Still, Hawthorne would have to call in many favors to help ensure the festival would be just as he said, but he’d be able to manage, and from the looks on the crowd’s faces, it would be worth it. Impulsively, he wiped yet more sweat off his forehead with a small grin. He had felt a tint of pride swell up inside him.

It was at this time that he noticed a silhouette atop the roof across the square. A crouching figure, shrouded in the shadows of a nearby roof. A curious, if not suspicious place to view the square from, even for the guards. Who was…

The man twitched ever so slightly, and a blur flew from his position. A sharp whistle blew past Hawthorne and from behind he heard a sickening thud. The rage and cheer of the crowd had now completely evaporated. Cries of confusion and terror now sounded out. Hawthorne looked behind him to see a cross bolt solidly lodged between Garren’s ribs, piercing his left lung.

“…Milord?” the poor lad gasped as he fell backwards, consciousness fading as the magistrate felt his neck hairs rise. Speechless, weak in the knees, Hawthorne stood petrified as Albarn barked orders to the guards.

“You three! Get the magistrate inside, NOW! The rest of you, with me! Don’t let the archer escape!”

As Albarn spoke, the would-be-assassin quickly turned about and vanished from sight as several arrows were notched and fired at him. The crowd now scattered in the chaos, the civilians screaming in panic as the guards rushed to give chase to the murderer. Magistrate Hawthorne felt himself speeded away by armed men into the safety of the hall. He could only bring himself to look away from Garren’s dead body when the door slammed shut on him.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“Things went to hell pretty quickly today, didn’t they?”

“I don’t get it,” Thoren pondered aloud. “Are things really bad enough to merit attempts on the magistrate’s life?”

“Seems so,” Yorick answered simply. “The Horde is loose again, and the people are having their pockets plundered to get the orcs back in check. It’s bad enough that more and more people are losing their homes, one of them obviously are at their rope’s end.”

Thoren shook his head. “We aren’t talking about some peasant off the street. This man had a crossbow. What peasant owns a weapon of that caliber?”

“He could’ve stolen it. He wasn’t skilled. He missed the magistrate.”

“I don’t know,” Thoren said with doubts in his mind.

“Well, at least the magistrate came out with his head intact. Shame about his attendant, though, but no harm done.”

“A man still died, Yorick!” Thoren scolded his friend.

“I’m not saying that we let the bastard go,” Yorick quickly defended. “It’s just a good thing that the assassin missed his target. A dead magistrate is the last thing we need in Stratholme.”

“I suppose you got a point there…”

“Alright, to hell with this talk of assassinations, the night is gloomy enough as it is.” Yorick pondered for a moment as he changed the subject. “How are things going with you and your girl?”

Thoren couldn’t help but give a big, stupid grin, which Yorick found infectious. “Alright, you sly dog, what’s on your mind?”

Thoren did not speak a word. He instead reached into his bag and pulled out a small box. Yorick’s eyes lit up in surprise, baring a toothy smile at Thoren. “Now where on earth did you get the gold for a ring?”

“A couple years of guard duty and patrols pay off, as well as the odd job,” Thoren stated, opening the box to reveal a golden band, a twisting line etched around it, with a clear, rose red ruby set at the top.

“Must’ve costed a bleedin’ fortune? You must be heads over heels for this gal.” Realization dawned on Yorick’s face as he asked, “It occurs to me you don’t actually talk about her much. What she look like?”

Thoren’s smile drained at the question. “Well… she’s… I’m not really supposed to…”

“What’s this?” Yorick grinned as he continued, “You got some forbidden romance going on? Has lowly worldly Thoren fallen in love with a fair maiden atop a manor balcony? Sly dog is much too kind for you, mate.”

Yorick looked up in pondering, before saying, “Hmmmmm… I’m at lost for an actual term worse than ‘sly dog.’ I’ll have to get back to you on that.”

“Keep quiet now, Yorick!” Thoren whispered loudly as he put the box away in his satchel. “I’ve already told you too much. She hasn’t even told her father yet.”

“Down boy! I won’t tell anyone, trust me. Hell, who’d believe me at the barracks? Bargate? He’d sooner believe you were snogging Bolvagarde.”

Thoren couldn’t help but chuckle as the two continued on their way. Yorick suddenly broke the silence again. “Oooch. Nature calls. You go on ahead, Thoren, I’ll be along shortly.”

The soon-to-be-wed laughed again as he went on ahead, while his friend put down his lantern and went into a dark alcove to relieve himself. Thoren once again brought out his ring. He couldn’t help but feel pride as he looked over the fruit of his labors realized. It’d be a long road still for things to work out, but she was worth it.

He was pulled from his thoughts when he heard a slight rustling. He looked around expecting to see Yorick, but his friend was nowhere to be seen. Instead, he caught a small glimpse of a cloaked man dodging into an alley. Thoren quickly extinguished his light and crept along the way, looking between the buildings. In the pitch darkness, he could make out the shapes of two men, who begun conversing.

“You’re late.”

“You have my apologies, my lord. I was delayed. Unexpected circumstances arose on account of the assassination. Magistrate Hawthorne has been decidedly unnerved by the ‘attempt’ on his life. The noble houses were the first to be ‘informed’ of the attempted assassination, and the first to answer inquiries.”

“Hmph,” the taller man grunted. “Always paranoid about the nobles… Though his suspicions are not too far off, this time.”

“It won’t do him any good, my lord. We can expect our allies to arrive within the week, along with the package. Our plans will go unhindered, despite the magistrate’s caution. He may even drive away his allies and the people. If things go as well as we plan, we’ll have the peasants lining up to support you.”

With each word, Thoren found himself gripped by the conversation more and more. From the sounds of it, these men were planning a coup. A civil war at this time would without a doubt devastate Lordaeron, especially with the east being the realm’s bread basket. The men spoke on, and Thoren could not help but to eavesdrop further.

“You will be pleased to know, my lord, that in addition to all this, the Belladors have been called from their estate to contribute to the festivities. In two days’ time, they’ll travel to Stratholme. They’ll be vulnerable on the road… An opportunity for revenge, if I ever saw one, my lord.”

Thoren felt horror come over him as the superior spoke with glee. “And what an opportunity it is. If there is anything to the Light, I imagine it’s taken a shine to me recently.”

As they spoke, Thoren grasped his sword, assessing the situation. He scanned the area around him quickly for Yorick. No sign of him. Which meant Thoren either tried taking them on his own, or risk them leaving and committing their crimes unabated. He made his decision, and rounded the corner, voice and arms raised.

“In the name of his royal majesty, King Terenas, and his appointed magistrate, Reginal Hawthorne, I hereby place both of you under arrest!”

“I thought you would’ve been sure that you weren’t followed!”

“Pardon me, my lord,” his subordinate was quick to bow, but not panic. “I was certain I was alone.”

“Bah, it is of no consequence. I’ll deal with this whelp myself!” With that, the man drew from the folds of his cloak a finely crafted sword, too good for the likes of a common brigand. So much for a peaceful surrender. Thoren in response readied his sword and shield, content to bring this man in perhaps a bit “bruised.”  

However, as blackguard approached, intent on defying the law of the king… Thoren found himself unable to move. He felt as though he was frozen. Was he scared of this man? Was he freezing up? Everything felt wrong, inexplicably, even though he was unable to figure out why. Whatever it was, it forced him to watch helplessly as the man raised his blade above his head, and brought it down, past Thoren’s shield, striking the gap between his neck and shoulder in his armor, spraying red into his vision.

Rose, he could only think as everything faded to red, then black.



“Thoren!” Yorick shouted out, scanning with his lantern. “Thoren, where’d you go?!”

Still no answer. This was beginning to grate on Yorick’s patience. “A man can’t take a piss for five seconds without his friend pulling an Antonidas. Typical.”

Irritated and tired, he stopped on the bridge and set down his lantern, deciding to pause and wait for his partner to return. It was actually beginning to worry him now, given the day’s events. A guard disappearing on a patrol at night was far more likely than an attempt on the magistrate’s life. Thoren though was far sharper than most of the guards on the job, including Yorick. He was probably worrying too much about it… but he just couldn’t shake this feeling of things going wrong. Was this how his mate felt all the time?

Groaning in annoyance, he turned around and crossed his arms on the bridge wall, looking over into the water. Darker than usual, even for night. But it wasn’t entirely gloomy. The clouds seemed to be clearing up, and a waxing moon now shone bright in the sky. A fair sight given recent times. Maybe Yorick would find a girl at the festival and look up at the starry skies and moon, like some cheesy romance story.    

…Why was the water this dark? The moonlight seemed to contradict it. The water wasn’t even entirely dark, he noticed, there just seemed to be a swath in it, flowing further on down the canal. Looking closer at the center of it, he spotted a very solid form in the water, probably at the bottom. Must’ve been heavy…

…or wearing a suit of armor.

Yorick felt very pale all the sudden. Sharply aware of his surroundings now, he looked around for anything, anyone. Grabbing his lantern, he ran quickly for the nearest guard post, drawing his sword just in case, a grim and shaken expression over his face.

What was it the Magistrate promised?  “A Midsummer Festival unlike any that have come before, and unlike any that will soon come after.”  


Last edited by Mercutio on Tue Oct 29, 2013 9:53 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Sign Ups and Roster

Post  Mercutio on Tue Oct 29, 2013 9:53 pm

Welcome to the Midsummer Festival!!!

Stratholme is famous for its Midsummer Fire Festival, a time for celebration and summer enjoyment, coming at a time where the people need it direly. The people of Eastern Lordaeron are drawn to the great city during this time, hoping to forget recent troubles with the new Horde and the taxes brought upon them. But this year, it seems that the festival may bring troubles of its own.

An assassination attempt on the authority of the eastern kingdom, and a guard found dead in the night. Even bandits grow ever bolder and take advantage of the people on the road, in addition to the orcs rampant in the kindom. Whether these omens are connected or not is unknown. Times are rarely simple, and this fact rings especially true in recent years. Perhaps you will find out what is going on. Perhaps not. Either way, the festival begins soon. And it’s not one to be missed

Note that this is a Pre-Warcraft III RP, and it will not feature time travel, so Night Elves, Draenei, and Tauren are right out, and Horde races like the Orcs and Trolls would likely be restricted to the point of undesirability. Forsaken, Worgen, and Blood Elf characters would appear as their living/uncorrupted/unworgenfied counterparts. Below are the fields you can fill out, just remove the placeholder phrases and fill them out to how you desire them to appear.

Name: Arthur, King of the Britains.
Race and Gender: To seek the holy… wait…
Appearance: Who does your hair and face? Where do you shop?
Personality: Are you a fan of kittens and puppies, are you a fan of kicking them, and other helpful little tidbits to defining your character’s attitude.
Brief History: Your character’s history, explained for us in great (but minimized) detail. (Preferably a compromise.)
Reputation: What people would have probably heard about the above two from hearsay.

The Roster
*Pending Sign-ups.*
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