The Festival kicks off as a parade of unhappy looking children trudge through the dusty streets, dressed comically as flowers; their faces painted garishly yellow. A rag-tag assemblage of townsfolk beating not quite rhythmically on drums follows. In turn, this group is followed by Lydia, the burgomaster’s wife, on a white horse. She is covered in strands of yellow strings and garlands that trail behind her. Her fragile smile threatens to crack as she waves to the crowd. Cradled in her arm is a large bouquet of wilted flowers.
Behind them labor a group of sorry looking men, hauling and pushing a cart with a massive sphere of laced wood, vines, wicker, and rope. It must be fifteen feet across. The smells of pitch and oil precede it, wafting across the open square.
Finally, surrounded by a ring of guards, the burgomaster himself rides into the center of the square. His face is painted yellow like the faces of the children. He holds aloft a gruesome torch – a wooden sword with one of the old rotten heads from the Wolf’s Head Jamboree impaled on it, enveloped in flames.
Coming to a stop, the Baron shouts with an uncomfortably high-pitched voice, “In our safe mountain town of Vallaki, we reject the Dark Prince. By the light of the blazing sun, ALL….WILL….BE….WELL!!”
As the burgomaster wheels his steed to face the wooden sphere with a haughty grin on his yellow face, a single chirping screech is heard from above. Only a few Vallakians seem to notice it at first, but it is followed by a rising chorus of dozens, then hundreds of clicking, chittering screeches and the sound of leathery wings on the air as a wave of thousands of bats pours across the sky, casting the town square into a surreal twilight darkness. The large bats swoop across the sky, low, but not dipping below the rooflines of the sad buildings of the town.
There are gasps and shouts amongst the crowd. The people seem rooted in place. The burgomaster, face illuminated by the blazing torch in the sudden dark, prods his horse towards the sun sphere and defiantly leans down to thrust the flame against the wooden structure. However, as the bats pass, flying out of sight, the sound of their wings is replaced by the sound of rain – heavy rain chasing the bats’ progress from east to west, blanketing Vallaki in a torrential downpour. Before he can light the pitch-soaked sphere, the rain extinguishes the burgomaster’s torch.
A singular laugh erupts from the crowd, drawing the burgomaster’s fiery gaze as well as gasps from the townsfolk. All eyes turn to look at the source of the laughter, one of the guards in the Vallaki militia. The guardsmen flanking him are aghast at his ill-timed outburst.
Baron Vallakovich cries out, “SPITE! MALICIOUS MOCKERY! ARREST HIM!”
After a second’s pause, the other guardsmen turn and seize the man who laughed.
Immediately, another shout bursts from somewhere in the crowd, “Now!” At that signal, about a dozen masked individuals push through the crowd and set upon the town guard. The chaos is sudden and complete. In addition to the melee between the guards and their assailants, the entire assembled town seems to panic and people are rushing in every direction to escape the fracas.
The burgomaster, terror in his eyes, screams out, “Guards! Protect me!!” and whirls his horse to flee the scene. Clearly not caring about who might be trampled in the process, the burgomaster spurs his horse away from the square, escorted by eight guards. You notice that he left his wife behind. Fr. Petrovich reaches his sister and pulls her away from the brawl. They rush away from the square heading west through town.
Ismark rushes through the confused throng of townsfolk and rushes up to Andor. He clearly has a panicked look in his eyes. He shouts, “Ireena! At the church. Please help me!” He is imploring you to come with him.