The bustling town of Threepwood, sitting on a fertile bluff just a stone's throw from the shoreline, caressed by sea winds and battered by storms every other day. The architecture style of the city is unique, including many spiraling towers proudly erected among humbler homes and shops. Many large manors belong to prominent mages and merchants of magical goods, displaying the wealth and prominence of their position. The houses of the major mage guilds tower over the city, barely rivaled in opulence and taste. The spirals of the Stormchasers Guild, always crackling with lightning and glowing with dew dominate the Marketplace; the beautiful, glittering glass dome of the Guild of Veiled Mirages, entwined with exotic flowers is the jewel if the Hill District; and the tallest towers in Threepwood, built of glittering marble, belong to the Guild of Amber Smoke and stand at the very end of Rue d'Enlise, the largest and most prominent street of Threepwood.
Half a dozen other, smaller guilds also populate the city, each with its own base and members. It's a popular place and even more popular holiday destination for mages of all kinds, with a flourishing trade in magical goods. In all of Boletaria, it's probably the best place to be if you're a mage. There are countless services and dedicated stores carrying magical goods from all over Angria.
Many of the citizens are mages themselves so the town has a very strong magical atmosphere. It's a peaceful place with little trouble from raids of orcs or bandits--few are crazy enough to set foot in a city full of people that could turn you into a toad for laughs. It's not entirely
peaceful though, occasionally suffering from the aftermaths of some mage's failed experiment.
I mean...the town's only just recovering from last week's stampede of purple-and-pink unicorn cats caused by Sir Ilethius de Pompadour's latest experiment on transmogrification of species... The Marketplace took the brunt of it but survived in good shape, with no damage a little magic wouldn't fix.
The most famous inn of Threepwood, the Broken Wand, was packed as usual in the high noon of the day, bustling with lively music produced by the magimatronic little orchestra, the owner's own pride and joy. Drinks and light meals were served about amply by friendly serving wenches and nimble waiters. A few patrons, new to town, were admiring the 'fame wall' of the inn, with pictures and portraits of famous mages and personages that had visited the Broken Wand--including the young king of Boletaria himself, King Hamlet II Von Hoffen.
The square outside was also bustling with life, citizens conducting their daily shopping, and tourists pootling around on rental magic carriages or floating carriers, admiring the town's sights and sampling wares. And of course, the entire town buzzed with the latest news: An emissary with an entourage had arrived just last night from the Duchy of Morris to the West. Rumor had it that such emissaries had been dispatched all over Boletaria with an important announcement.
And true enough, heralds of the emissary were dispatched all over town. One such herald posted himself on the herald's podium in the middle of the Marketplace square right outside of the Broken Wand, while his young pages scattered around to put up elaborate signs with the message on every public board.
"Hear ye, hear ye!
" began the herald in a loud booming voice--no doubt with a little magical aid behind it. "Good people of Threepwood! The Duke of Morris, His Royal Majesty's most opulent servant, Sir Morris Mariner, declares the 24th Annual Conference of Magic of Morris now open to citizens of all of Boletaria! His Excellency the Duke, hath overturned 2 centuries of tradition and decided the most prestigious conference now open to members of all of Boletaria's magical community!"
This bit of news interested a lot of people. Morris had for years held a sort of expo of magic that rivaled Threepwood's and yet had never held its doors open for mages outside Threepwood with rare exceptions, specifically invited. Now it seemed that Duke Morris Mariner had changed his mind very suddenly and was openly inviting mages from around Boletaria--and very boldly from Threepwood itself, Morris' rival in magical goods and people.
"The 3-day conference shall include lectures from famous professors of magic and legendary adventurers, including celebrated Lady Agatha la Purcell, Slayer of the Beast of Grumber Bog herself! Purveyors of magical goods from all over Angria will be visiting, bringing exotic goods and materials! Many events have been organized for your pleasure: Menageries with beasts from far and wide! Magical acrobats and performers! Live shows of dexterity and skill! Baudy plays and a troupe of elven magic bards from Andulachia! And finally!" The herald called, drawing himself to his full height. "His Excellency the Duke himself shall address the esteemed visitors in a mass banquet held by the Duke in the Grand Court of Morris for the delight of one and all, and engage in a debate about magic in the future of our beloved Boletaria! Everyone is welcome! Adventurers as well!!"
The bard repeated his message, which stirred interest in the population while his pages passed out flyers and with the message and put them up on public announcement boards. A plucky little page, probably no older than 10, dressed in Morris' green and silver livery got in the Broken Wand, handing out flyers for the Conference to interested patrons of the bar.
"The Morris Annual Magic Conference!" the kid said, straining to be heard over the orchestra and the chatter. "The biggest event of the year! Have a flyer miss, come check out the conference!" he blurted, holding flyers out to interested people.
Similar heralds were dispatched all over Boletaria and could be heart touting their message around towns and their flyers could be found as far as the Volven Mountains, inviting people to visit Morris and participate in the festivities.
In Valentia, the capital of Boletaria, the news of the Morris conference being opened to the public was met with surprise and excitement, as many mages and travelers thought it a great opportunity to visit the Duchy and see the conference themselves. The city was reeling back from the weekend of festivities hosted by the palace on account of the King's wedding anniversary and the people were still in a rather festive mood and eager for more.
Location: Morris and outskirts.
To the west of the thriving town of Threepwood, the Duchy of Morris and it's expansive capital, Morris Keep, was indeed stirring under the preparations for the Annual Magic Conference, a Morris specialty. The city, bursting from within it's walls, was alive with work and activity. Crews of citizens were taking to the streets to sweep and clean, removing trash and obstructions, other crews were setting up the conferences gathering points to ensure the visitors never got in the way of the city's own activities and businesses; stores were being stocked to the brim in preparation for the people, inns were filling their barrels and ale stocks, mage guilds were preparing their halls to impress and the people were working to make their city look its best.
Castle Morris, the home and base of the Duke and the Duchy's government, was also in a throng of preparations for the visitors. The Grand Court, a massive paved courtyard usually reserved for reveries of the nobles, was being prepared to hold a massive banquet for the people attending.
Nobody was really sure why the Duke had decided to open the Conference to non-Morrisans but most assumed it was an economical move, trying to bring cash into the Duchy. Besides the Conference, the Duke was also entertaining several high profile guests from the mainland of Angria, including Orlov Gelzimowitz, deposed Count of the former County of Ruskha, now a thriving little nation of its own trying to rebuild itself from the ruins of the Count's excessive lifestyle and oppressive politics. A celebrated mage once, the Count had lost much of his power with the loss of his family's crest, a ruby with magical powers.
Rumor had it that Duke Morris had been charged by the King to keep an eye on Orlov during his stay in Boletaria to prevent any further political disasters. It really said something about the king's trust in the Duke of Morris.
This boom in activity was even prevalent in the outskirts of Morris. Any small hamlet or village around the city was being prepared to provide housing for visitors, everyone expecting they'd make fairly good money out of the conference. Posts guiding people to various settlements, inns or the city were being put up by crews.
But not everyone was being cheery and expecting the conference with delight. Under Castle Morris, in the dungeons, the atmosphere was same as always: dreary, dark and very damp. A trio of guards, all dressed in rather grimy and damp versions of the Morris army uniforms, sat at a termite-infested table, playing cards. They'd laid their helmets aside, their halberds only close at hand, and exchanged infrequent curses and swears as they played, between random chatter and silence. Most of the cells were empty except for one sobbing old man in the far end and the cell right behind the three guards.
It was a strange cell, with thicker bars than the others, surrounded on the floor and the ceiling by magic circles traced with charcoal and red chalk. Two candles, both red, burned inside it without seeming to melt. Another circle was traced inside the cell where a man sat lazily, chained to the wall with heavy chains that forced his back to the wall and his arms up and overhead at an angle so that his hands and elbows dangled. His legs were also chained to the floor, always keeping him within the inner circle.
Oddly enough though, the man was humming and after some consideration started singing rather cheerfully if dully.
Tonight...I'm gonna have my~self a real good time
I feel ali~ve and the wo~rld... I'll turn it inside out - yeah
And floating around in ecstasy
So... don't. stop. me. now...don't. stop. me...
'Cause I'm having a good time having a good time--
"OI! What're ye warblin' there?" the fatter of the guards barked lazily and clanged against the cell with his halberd. "It's rubbish! Sing that other one you were sayin' before!"
The man stopped and sighed patiently. "You guys are a tough audience..." he muttered.
"Deal with it," another guard scoffed.
"Look, I've sang that one a dozen times since I've been here. Don't you wanna try something else?" replied the smooth, jaded voice from the cell.
"No! Unless you don't really want yer water."
"Fine, dad..." the voice mumbled and cleared it's throat before starting a different song in a melodic, but clearly bored tone.
Just cast away...and I am lost at sea
Another lonely day and no one here but me~
More~ loneliness than any man could bear
Rescue me before I fall into desp~air
I send an S.O.S. to the world...
I send an S.O.S. to the world
I hope that someone gets my--
I hope that someone gets my--
I hope that someone gets my...
Message in a bottle
Message in a bottle
Message in a bottle...
((OOC: This is the set-up everyone! Make what you will of it and get your characters started! We'll make sure that the setting doesn't lag behind your characters as they move about and do stuff. Try to have fun!))
((My eternal thanks to Queen for their sexy "Don't Stop Me Now"
and John Mayer for his "Message in A Bottle"