Longest Day Celebration in Hopetide

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The major holidays in the world of Aeterra occur around the equinoxes and solstices. The Longest Day holiday happens on the Summer Solstice. I planned on putting this out on June 21, but had trouble focusing on editing. The weather’s been humid and raining, and the temperature dropped into the 60’s. It left me tired and spaced-out.

A day in the life of…

My world building narratives aren’t focused on a conflict. Think of it as a short clip of their timeline. I add these to the Timeline and World Bible. and they likely wont make it into the manuscript.

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At first, I wanted to write about a Longest Day Festival with Spinecrusher but it would be full of spoilers.  The time in her past is too, so I looked at one of the first Longest Days she spent with Gradin in the city of Hopetide.

Aria and Gradin only knew each other for four years, but became close after a traumatic event.  Gradin took on the role of a protector but also tried to drag Aria out of her shell. We find out about a Naming Day (not to be confused with a Name day) and the Royal family’s naming rules.

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ays were long and Aria, who slept strange hours anyway, was suffering more than normal. The sun seemed overly bright to her. All she wanted to do was find a dark corner, read, and nap. The bed shifted. Only two people came into her room. Only one of them would get in the bed.

“Good morning, Gradin.”

“Afternoon. It’s afternoon.”

“Oh. Did you need me for something?” She couldn’t remember if she’d promised to do something for him.

“I wanted you to come to the festival with me.”

She uncurled from her side and stared at the ceiling like it might give her a clue. “Why is there a festival?”

“Longest day? I’ll go alone if you aren’t feeling well.” He laid his palm on her forehead. “Should I send for a priestess or a healer?”

She swatted his hand away. “What? I am fine. I have not been sleeping well.”

“You really are sleeping too much. Maybe if you cut back to one nap a day?” He got up and drew back the heavy curtains.

“It’s so bright. She pulled the covers over her head.”

He curled up behind her. “It’s a nice day. You could put on a pretty dress?”

“Human clothes are uncomfortable. And someone said I look like a horse in everything I wear. They don’t even know about my hooves!”

“Who said that? I’ll punch them.”

“Lady Drawling.”

“People say it’s her age that makes her so rude. It’s a sad excuse since she isn’t much older than we are. I’ll still punch her if you like.”

Aria hoped he would leave her alone for the day, but this was Gradin and he usually got his way.

“It’ll do you good to get out. If we hurry, we can beat the crowds.”

“What color is the dress?”

“I chose lotus blue. You said you liked it at the dress shop. I let Neeme order a few dresses.”

Neeme, the sous chef, was the only house staff Aria had come to trust. She had taken Aria’s measurements since Aria refused to undress for the dressmaker. The young woman had a good idea what Aria liked. Getting sun would her turn her skin color closer to Human or Orrish shades of flesh instead of statue gray. Then she wouldn’t need to where the hoods all the time.

Gradin rolled from the bed and flung open the wardrobe. Gradin pulled out what resembled linen coveralls with a long slightly sheer over dress.

“Look at the embroidery along the edges. Mrs. Talier had the idea to do feathers and snowflakes. Each of them is different. Aria slipped from the covers to see the white thread work along the cuffs. There was a wide hood, also trimmed with the design of alternating feathers and snowflakes, that would keep her face in shadow.

“I really like this. Thank you.”

Gradin touched his hand to his heart. He let Neeme in to help her dress as he left the room. Neeme braided her hair in a style called  a goddess crown. Most of the statues of the Goddess showed her hair like bread along the hairline and around the head. Neeme had taken care to style aria’s hair as soon as it had gotten long enough to make sure it are out faster. It had been fouryears since she had been shaved bald, and she hated her hair short. She didn’t like having it braided, but it helped keep the hoods up.

“You’re beautiful and mysterious. And you’ll be on the arm of the second most eligible bachelor in Ublynis.”

“Eligible for what?”

“Marriage. He is rich.”

Gradin could have his pick of the ladies if he stopped showering his “honored guest” with attention. From her perspective, human marriage was a father paying another man to take his daughter only for political advancement or business deals. She and Gradin could do with out that.

“Who is the most eligible? Prince Hallam?”

“No! The newborn prince!” Neeme covered her grin with her calloused hand.

Neeme straightened her face as she put away the grooming tools. “Right m’lady. Lord Gradin is probably waiting at the stairs.”

“Thank you for your help Neeme. And for the clothes.”

Neeme bowed her head. “You’re a pleasure to dress m’lady.”

Gradin waited hands clasped. His lips curved into the lopsided smile that made him seem much younger and less mischievous. He wore a gray suit with accents that matched her dress. His blonde waves were loose around his shoulders and his face was naturally smooth of hair like all Merdanulf men.

“Lady Aria, You look lovely.”

Gradin’s home was not a long walk from the trade district. They had to pass through his front garden which had once been a moat. Now there were ponds, hedges, and flower beds laid out in a maze. his front gate let them out into the trade district.

renaissance-faire-1773204_640Festival goers in bright summer clothes packed the square. Here and there performers displayed their talents with soliloquies from the histories, flame juggling, singing, and dancing. Aria turned away from men dressed as a x’orja demon growled and screeched at the screaming crowds. Gradin patted her hand. They made their way to stage in the park.

“Will there be a play?”

Gradin shook his head. She recognized the royal heralds standing with their scrolls. They wore deep blue and white Bajornas house livery.  A lotus trimmed in gold unfurled on their chests. The queen’s guards, in white armor assembled on the stage under the canopy. They stood shoulder to shoulder blocking the view of the back of the stage.

The heralds stepped forward and one raised his hand. they spoke in unison. “The Longest Day is upon us! We celebrate the blessings that abound in Ublynis, and especially in the city of Hopetide this year.”

The king stepped forward. He was in his fifties, with white hair and sun-baked skin. he patted his paunch. “Many blessings indeed! The spring has been bountiful, yes?”

Through out the crowd people made the sign of the goddess and murmured “Goddess be praised.”

I think you may have heard that the queen and I have been fruitful.” the king flexed his arms and posed.

Aria had spent time with the king and queen, but did not realize he was just as charming and funny in public.

“It’s been a long time, fifteen years, since I was here naming a child. My nephew, Prince Hallam. But here we are again. This time, I come to you with my own son.” He touched his crown, a thick silver band with four blue stones. “This can be a heavy burden. Every choice we make, whether policy or private, is reflected in this crown. Your ancestors chose our family to protect this nation. Providing you with a suitable king for the next generation hasn’t been easy. Today I also ensure that our way of life continues for another generation.”

Cheers started, and the king shushed. “He is sleeping.”

“I have buried 4 sons already. None of them lived long enough to be presented to you. But today, I stand here, a father, your servant, and introduce your next Lord Protector.”

The king approached the row of guards. They didn’t move. These men took orders only from the queen and not even the king or his generals could remove them from their post.

Aria used her magic to listen to what was going on.

“My love? You missed your cue.”

“He shat his nappy. Give me a moment.”

Aria listened to the nurses and queen’s commentary and tried not to laugh. It was possible that she would learn to curse by the time they cleaned the child’s bottom.

“You can hear them?” Gradin asked as the crowd murmured around them.

“He pooped.” 

Aria cringed as one of the nurses described it. “The queen and her ladies have colorful and vivid language.”

The guards parted, and the queen held out the prince in all his chubby freshly diapered glory. He was wearing only the diaper.

“Where are his clothes? You’re supposed to be out here with me.”

“We’re all covered in his shit and I refuse to stand before a crowd like this.”

The guards stepped back to block the queen from view. The king carried the prince back to the front of the stage. He he looked at Daelyn and squared his shoulders.

“Meet your next king.” He held the boy out for the crowd to see.

“Daelyn Bryneric Gurganus Bajornas, the Dread Prince-Captain of the Chironex’s Crown.”

With the king turned showing the kicking baby to the crowd. Little Daelyn’s nappy fell off, and he piddled on the stage. the king looked down at the puddle unsure of what to do. Aria’s laughter erupted out she clutched Gradin’s arm. gradin straightened his sleeved tucking his face into Aria’s to hide his grin.

“There’s a party on my ship today.” He checked his watch. “Goodness, we’re a bit late.”


Two men waited in a rowboat at the dock.  By the time they reached the four cargo ships, the crew men and women were already celebrating. The crews were mostly humans and Orrish, but he had a few merdanulf too. Aria leaned over the rail watching a game.  Men straddled barrels and rowed about trying to knock each other into the water with their paddles.

Gradin joined her with an unlabeled bottle. He took a sip and handed it to her.

“Do all men play games that might result in permanent bodily damage?”

“It’s part of our nature. Probably as our tribes got larger and there was less need to battle, we found ways to burn off aggression.”

“Orrish men do the most spectacularly stupid things when they are together and drinking.” she looked at the wine bottle. “What is this?”

“It’s better if you don’t know.”


“In three countries.” He looked around. “We are in open sea now though.”

“I think it might cause liver damage. Ugh.” she took another drink.

The team on white barrels scored several more times and the soaked men returned to ships. No one looked more than bruised.

The bell on the deck rang and they walked to the stairs that lead up to the wheel. He’d long since lost his jacket and ruled up his sleeves. Once everyone was sitting, Aria projected his voice to the other ships.

“What can I say? I appreciate the work you do. everyone can expect a small raise since we did so well this spring. I’ll be on more of the routes this year and to get know the new crew members. I’m just really appreciative to everything you have done to make this company successful. I love you all.”

The men cheered and Gradin waved.

“I’m a bit sloshed right now. Eat!”

The crew called out his name and cheered as he took his seat again.

The tables were plain with greenery down the center. Gradin had hired the best caterers in the city and the huge trays of cold food created dazzling displays. They ate off palm leaves and drank wine from some far off place. Aria’s head was swimming and her belly was full.

By the time gradin finished his meal, her body felt sluggish and her mind dragged.  She wanted to be alone. Or just with gradin.  She didn’t mind his company.

“Hey beautiful.” Gradin slipped in next to her. “Too much sun?”

“Too much everything and everybody.”

“Too much me?” He raised his eyebrows and pouted.

“This would have been nice with just you.”

“The sun should go down soon.  It usually quiets down then.  After that we can go home.”

“I didn’t mean to ruin your day.”

“I’d feel worse leaving your sulky-ass home.” He put his head on her shoulder.  “Did you at least enjoy seeing the baby?”

“I did! He is such a chubby happy looking little person! I hope can visit him soon.”

The sun setting began painting the sky pink and orange and as Gradin predicted, the party became more subdued.  A few people praying over smoldering herbs and circles of flowers.salute-3438543_640

Fire works lit the sky over the harbor and she understood why they had left the ships so far out to sea.  the bright pops and bursts over the city and framed with the mountain created a stunning view.

Later they returned home and Gradin walked Aria up to her room.  “Thank you for spending the day with me.”

“Thank you for dragging me out.  It wasn’t that bad.”

“You look exhausted.”

“I am.”

Thanks so much for reading this little story.

There is no wrong way to build a fantasy or sci-fi world. This is just what works for me.

What kind of world building do you do?

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