Noble Houses

The Winning Ale

April 4th

Rumors have been going around recently that the Wineroths will increase trade with whatever house can send a brewer to win their annual brewing tourny. Everyone knows that the Wineroths already greatly honor those that can make a good brew, so I suppose this makes sense that they’d want to trade more with the houses that have the people to make such great brews. I’m going to ask Lord Angelos if he’ll allow me to go and participate. I would really like to win the tournament, but beyond that I bet he’ll allow me to go for the trade opportunity.

April 5th

I’ve talked with Lord Angelos today and he’s agreed to let me travel to and participate in the tournament. He had some extra tasks for me while I’m up there, but that’s ok with me. He’s told me that he believes the Wineroths are forming a military and political pact with the Lilithans. This fits nicely with the rumors I’ve heard floating about. Anyway, he would like me, while I’m in Wineroth lands, to inquire into the exact nature of this supposed alliance. First, I’m to find out if there is, in fact, an alliance being formed and, if so, what their intentions are. After the tournament I’m to go south to the Lilithans, on my way back, and ask of them similar questions to see what their point of view is.

April 6th

I’ve got my brew packed up and ready for travel. I hope the travel is smooth. Today the Old man, Lord Angelos’ uncle, and the apprentice, Otto, have asked me if I were willing to add narcotics, although they didn’t call it that, to my brews in order to get people addicted to them. Although I do want everyone to drink and enjoy what I make, I can’t abide by doing it with addictive substances. I wouldn’t be earning the honor at that point. I can already only barely stand alcoholics since that’s a very similar situation. I told them that I’d think about it, but I have no intention of ruining my brew in such a way.

April 7th

Today’s the day I set off for the tournament. I’ve left my daughter, Carol, in charge of the Winged Rattlers. She said it wouldn’t be the same without me, but that she’d manage. She’s such a good daughter. Since I am related to Lord Angelos it does make sense for me to have a guard travel with me, for which I’m grateful what with all the rumors going about of increased caravan raiding.

Just before I could leave the Old Man approached me again. He apologized for his earlier suggestion and proposed something new to me. He proposed that with Lady Lily’s help we could increase how nutritious my brew is for exporting to lands where famine is supposedly going to strike. This came as a surprise to me since I haven’t heard any news about famine, but, then again, I suppose I don’t hear all the rumors. This new proposal actually intrigued me. I don’t mind assisting common folk and this sounds like it sure would help them in their desperate times. It still has the unfortunate side effect of making my brew a “necessity” among some, but at least once the famine is gone they will still have the choice of not drinking anymore should they not want to. Although I would greatly like it if they did continue to drink my brews.

The guards seem excited for the trip as well. It makes sense, after all, the tournament is more than just that; it is a grand festival. Many people travel to the tourny and drinks are shared freely with visitors. Although they will be required to guard me, safety of the participants is guaranteed by the Wineroths (they take their brewing very seriously) and they will have many guards of their own, because of this my guards will have lots of free time to roam about. It’s kind of a vacation for them as well.

May 16th

Nothing of interest occurred during travel, but today I’ve finally arrived! I always forget how many taverns exist in the Wineroth capital, Ambrosia. We arrived slightly early so I’ll have some time to enjoy the sights before the tournament starts.

May 19th

Today’s the day the 57th Annual Wineroth Brewing Tournament starts! I decided to take my time picking out particulars from the ingredients that were supplied to us for the In-House Section. Many just picked the first few things they found and began right away. They’re not going to be a challenge. How can they be so ignorant? Just watching the Wineroth brewers (who usually win the tournament) one can tell that thought must be put into which ingredients to use, none of them rushed with their choices. What I did rush on, however, was picking which tools would be mine for use. This I did first, along with many others. The most difficult part is passing up a fairly decent setup in hopes of finding a better one. To the uninitiated everything looks the same, I know, but to the masters every little nick or stain can adjust the taste and the flavor. I finally settled on a setup that I was comfortable with after the one I had been keeping my eye on in case nothing better showed up was taken. This, I believe, was a mistake of mine, I hope it doesn’t cost me latter.

May 20th

The Homebrew Section judging began today. My brew made it past the first sipping as well as the first meal. I knew it would.

May 21st

My brew was eliminated from the second meal! In past years I’ve always made it to the third meal sometimes even the fourth sipping! Surely I stand no chance in winning the tournament now.

May 22nd

It was discovered that several of the judges had become ill with colds throughout the previous day. Everyone knows that a cold will severely change one’s taste. In light of this all judging that had occurred yesterday has been revoked and the Homebrew section will be postponed until either the current judges recover in a few days or new judges can be found. This is quite a relief for I thought for a moment that my skills had waned in the past year.

Because of this the sharing of drinks in the festival must be put on hold by any participate that passed the first round since some of the extra brews must be saved for rejudging. I can begin sharing again when the tournament continues.

May 25th

The judges have recovered and the Homebrew section continued today. Like I expected I passed the second sipping and second meal. As for the third sipping and meal, I passed both as well!

May 26th

I WON!!!! I WON THE HOMEBREW SECTION!!!! I’m so excited, but let me write a real entry as well.

Today was the fourth sipping and meal and then the final sipping and meal. I eagerly watched as one by one the judges proceeded to sip from my ale for the fourth sipping. I had never passed at this point in the judging before and was half expecting to be dropped. But not one judge dropped my ale and as the last judge placed the mug down I was already being silently congratulated by Griffin and Maldevar (two of the guards that came with me).

As the day continued I became more and more excited (as well as anxious) as I passed the fourth meal, and then the final sipping as well! This was it. I had never made it so far in the competition before! I watched as the different judges that had my brew went through their meals. I counted how many seconds each took with my drink, I didn’t count how long they took with the others’ drinks, however, so this did me no good, heh. Suddenly I noticed that one judge was tipping my drink over, a clear sign of disapproval and an instant loss. I bit my lip, this wasn’t happening! How could a drink get this far only to be tipped over? I didn’t realize he was reaching for a new fork because he’d dropped his. He caught what he was doing and stopped his movement catching my drink with his other hand so it wouldn’t tip. I let out the breath I’d been holding. The meal ended and no drinks had been tipped, none have been in the final meal since the 32nd Annual where Ralder Naph had secretly drugged his drink just before the last round.

Now the measuring was to begin. All the judges rose and calmly left the table while the OM went up to the table. He began his measuring, but when he reached my first cup he stopped in surprise. I knew that the judge at that cup had been taking many drinks from mine throughout the meal so what could possibly surprise the OM unless… “This cup is empty!” He announced while raising and then turning the cup upside down to prove its emptiness. A gasp escaped the crowd. This too had not been done for a very long time, not since Chris Noruck (one time competitor and champion) competed in the 15th Annual. Ignoring the other cups the OM quickly paced over to my other cups, knowing them by their number, and looked inside. One by one he raised and then turned each cup over until all five had been place upside-down on the table. A quick review that no other cup was empty and then he had declared my brew the winning brew! Griffin and Maldevar, as well as Herbert and Timothy since they had returned by now, all lifted me up as I cheered in joy.

Now I can sit around talking and enjoying the festival while I await the In-House Section judging to begin.

June 13th

Today the In-House Section judging will begin. After my win in the Homebrew Section I’m expecting a lot more in this section, but there have been contestants before that haven’t done well in one section and exceedingly well in the other. Thus the reason for multiple sections.

The first sipping and meal was no problem, although a lot more of the contestants fell out of this section than they did in the Homebrew. Perhaps a lot of them didn’t feel they could quite make it and didn’t work as hard for this section. That’s normal, I suppose, but I still think less of them for that. They should always try their hardest.

June 14th

I passed the second and third sippings and meals as well. This I expected, I usually do well in this section, only losing in the fourth round or fifth sipping.

June 15th

I WON THE TOURNY!!!!! FIRST OVERALL!!! I’VE FINALLY WON!!!!!! Once again, my excitement abounds, but let me write an actual entry.

My brew passed the fourth round! My excitement grew! They did, of course, continue measuring everyone’s cup in the Homebrew Section. This matters because I might not win the tournament if I don’t do well enough in the fifth round. I watched on as the final sipping occurred. I watched as my cup was given to the first judge in the line and watched it go past every judge. The last judge placed the cup down and I had passed the final sipping! Unexpectedly no cups were dropped during the final sipping! This would make for a very difficult final meal.

Once again I found myself counting the seconds every judge took drinking from my cups. There were too many cups, however, too many choices for the judges. The time ran out and my count wasn’t as high this time as it was during the Homebrew Section. My cups were not going to be empty this time. The judges left the table and once again the OM went up to begin his measuring. No cups were empty, this was actually a relief. I knew mine weren’t going to be thanks to my count from the first section and if one was found to be empty that contestant might score higher than me overall. When the OM finished measuring we all watched as he proceeded to the OM table where his calculations would begin. This part seemed to drag on forever, but after what was probably just an hour (perhaps a little more) he stood. All the remaining contestants held their breaths, including myself. He announced that there was a tie! Two contestants had equal portions remaining in their cups! He announced the number, it belonged to a man named Jorund Heimlinge. The man burst out in a cheer for himself and the OM waited for him to calm down before continuing. The number he announched was my own! I too burst out in a cheer! I had won the In-House Section! With a tied win and a solo win I knew I had won the tournament! Jorund visibly calmed, he too knew that he stood no chance since I won the Homebrew without a tie. We congratulated each other on tying for the In-House Section and he congratulated me on winning the Annual. Normally the ceremony would have occurred the same night, but since there was a tie they’d have to make a second In-House trophy.

Afterwards, me and the guards went drinking. We visited something like five or six taverns.

June 16th

We had the ceremony today. It was something to see. Drinks everywhere, lots of people laughing and enjoying themselves.

First I was awarded the Homebrew trophy. After that Jorund and I were then awarded the In-House trophy. Then came the exciting part. Not every year does one person win both the Homebrew section and the In-House section. In fact it’s more uncommon than it is common. But when someone does win both sections a special part of the ceremony takes place. Here the Master of the Tourny takes the two trophies, the Homebrew and the In-House, and then places them side-by-side on a table. Here, he takes a third smaller piece out from inside a drawer in this table. Then he begins connecting the trophies along with this third piece and together the three pieces form the Grand Brewing Trophy. It is quite a sight to see. The winner is then given the Grand Brewing Trophy. This is what happened to me. There must be some magic involved because seeing the trophy from the angle I had, as the winner, as it was being put together was more spectacular than anything I’ve ever seen before.

June 19th

With winning the tournament comes great respect and honor among the Wineroths. It wasn’t difficult to get a private audience (with guards of course) with Lord Wineroth. My chat with Lord Wineroth revealed that he believes war is on the horizon. The Wineroths are planning on sitting back and watching as the war wages and then eventually jumping in with whichever side seems to be winning, in order to get the most profit out of the war. He told me that they are indeed planning on allying with the Lilithans. I attempted to convince him that siding with House Angelos right at the beginning would be in their house’s best interest, but he decided that he still wanted to wait it out and see.

June 20th

Today I begin my journey home, with the intention of stopping for a short while in Lilithan lands of course. The guards have mixed feelings about this portion of the trip. It’s said that the Lilithans have some of the most beautiful women in all the lands, but at the same time men are not taken very seriously in Lilithan lands. It is also said that it is very easy to offend the Lilithani women and punishment is harsh. I tried to convince them that these were just rumors probably started by men who tried to take advantage of the Lilithans and that even if the rumors were true they would be safe regardless due to their duty to see me safely for political reasons.

June 27th

I have made it to the Lilithan capital, Nod, where I was greeted and given a place to stay as a diplomatic envoy. At dinner with Lady Lilithan I brought the subject up about their supposed alliance with the Wineroths. She confirmed that there was an alliance between the two. From this I went on to ask of her similar questions as those I posed to Lord Wineroth. She answered similarly and revealed that, like the Wineroths, the Lilithans will also hold back in the war. They also intend to join the winning side in the most honorable way possible. Once again I tried to convince her that joining in with House Angelos would be of greater gain honorably, but she laughed at my naïveté claiming that I did not know what I was talking about. Since this is mostly true, the comment did not bother me in the least.

After dinner I thanked Lady Lilithan for her hospitality and asked if we (me and my guards) could stay for another night or two. She said that would be fine.

June 29th

We had a good time enjoying the city the last couple of days. The guards didn’t get to enjoy as much as me, of course, but they did get their free time as well. Tomorrow we head home.

July 27th

I have finally returned to Pheidippides and then right on to see Lord Angelos with what I have discovered. I told Lord Angelos of what I’d found out and it seemed as if it was exactly as he was expecting, no surprise since it was exactly as what was expected. I could tell he was thinking of what he’d do next, though. After my meeting with him I returned home for a well-earned rest. Carol was happy to see me after I’d been gone all season. She told me about this new boy that she had met, but that it didn’t work out when he found out she was only Lord Angelos’ second cousin twice removed. Still close, but not close enough to merit any importance apparently. Some men are just like that I suppose. She didn’t seem to care all that much about the situation, good for her, she can find someone she really loves another day. When she got the letter I’d sent telling her that I’d won she immediately commissioned someone to craft a beautiful stand to hold my trophy in. I placed it there and we both just looked at it for a while.

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