A week after the Carnival of Tears, as the town of Shrikewall tries to get back on its feet, Baron Brinian summons you all to a public ceremony in the castle courtyard to remember the fallen and acknowledge your efforts. A crowd has gathered in the cold, muddy square in anticipation of the ceremony, yet a cloud of mourning hangs heavily over them.
You stand in a line atop a wooden platform as the frigid winter wind cuts through your cloaks and claws at the banners atop the walls, the golden dragon of Narland fluttering on a field of crimson. Jhod and Sheriff Deldrin stand beside you, while the baron, Thuldrin Kreed, Thalnoros, and Domenic Ghirlandaio, the Knight of Gold, stand at one end of the stage. Namdrin Quinn is conspicuously absent. A memorial sits at the foot of the stage, a commemoration for the victims of the massacre, and you spot several familiar faces out in the crowd—Akiros, Cilia, and Kimi, among others. Young Brinian Vasseri steps forward, his eyes tired yet his jaw set with grim determination. Speaking somberly and without pretense, he addresses the crowd.
“People of Narland, I stand before you as a man who feels your sorrow. I look out among you and I see many missing faces of friends and family members who are now lost to us. Know that every name of the one-hundred and thirty-seven men, women, and children who lost their lives will be forever etched upon my heart.”
The baron’s voice grows colder and his fists clench.
“People of Narland, I feel your fury. My heart burns with rage at the memory of what was taken from us, at the cruel creatures who would slaughter innocent folk without hesitance. Know that we will enact vengeance on behalf of the one-hundred and thirty-seven men, women, and children that were stolen by the fey.”
The crowd has gained some life at his words, and several voices call, “Kill the faeries!” and “Burn the damned forest to the ground!” Brinian holds up his hands until they are quiet again.
“People of Narland, let us not forget that none of us would be standing here were it not for the brave heroics of a select few.” The baron motions to all of you. “These nine heroes defended us when we could not defend ourselves. Their spells and blades saved countless lives, and they risked everything they had with no promise of reward.” He turns to look directly at you. “We—I owe them everything.”
Turning back to the crowd, he motions for the Knight of Gold to come forward. The Swordlord Domenic carries a polished mahogany box, two hands wide by one hand deep and only a few inches tall. He stands beside the baron and opens the box ceremoniously. Inside are nine deep-red cloth badges embroidered with gold lettering.
“In honor of these nine and those that fell, I present to you the Badge of the Crimson Tear. From this day forward, those that shed their blood for Narland will be honored with this decoration.” Brinian begins taking the badges from the box one-at-a-time and pinning them to your chests. He thanks each of you personally as he goes down the line [Comment if you are interested in what he said to you individually and want to reply]. Looking at the embroidered lettering, it reads in Draconic, “Iejir ihk Iejir.”
“Blood for Blood,” Deldrin mutters to himself as he looks down at his own badge.
After all of the badges have been awarded, Baron Brinian turns back to the crowd, fire in his eyes. “People of Narland, I know we have been beaten down, but we are strong. These nine showed the dark creatures of this land that we will not surrender. Join me, join these heroes, and together we will prove to every nation, to every troll and damned fey, that we are not leaving, that these Stolen Lands now belong to their rightful owners! When Gozreh releases his hold on the north, we will march south and drive out every enemy from these lands, from our lands!” Brianian draws out his blade in one smooth motion, the single edge of the curved steel glinting. He holds it aloft as he shouts, “People of Narland, gather your honor and your bravery, for when spring comes, we go to war!”