And there upon the river bank,
young Brann did spot a fleeting flank,
a mighty boar that just had drank.
So with a yell he drew his prog,
and leapt upon the hapless hog,
while all the people watched agog.
~ Excerpt from “The Journey of Brann”
~ (Composed by the bard Valentin)
Every autumn, on Desnary 22nd, the citizens of Narathion get together for a great festival commemorating the arrival of King Brann the First and his refugees to the River Narith.
The festival is celebrated in every major town of the kingdom. The people of the smaller villages often go to a nearby town to attend; those who don’t usually celebrate with a big family feast event.
In preparation for the festival, a hunting party is sent out to kill a boar or two for the feast. In Belhaven, the capital city, the hunters usually bring back four or five boars. Both dire and regular boars may be killed. The night before the festival is spent preparing food for the feast, an activity which continues the following morning.
Those who aren’t cooking compete during the day in sporting contests, with archery and spear-fighting being especially common options. The winners of these contests, as well as those who brought down a boar, are rewarded with a special place in the parade.
Once the food is all prepared, usually in the mid-afternoon, the parade starts up. In Belhaven, it begins at the castle and is led by the royal family. In other towns, it is usually the mayor and their family leading, and the parade begins at the town hall. The winners of contests and slayers of the boars come in behind the leaders, and they are followed by any noble families in the area.
The parade is not much of a spectacle, though; that’s not its purpose, though the contest winners do often put on a bit of a performance as they walk. The parade slowly works its way through the town, hitting all the major streets if there are more than one. As it progresses, the people don’t stand by and watch – they join onto the end of the parade.
Once the parade reaches the feasting area, which may be just either a town square or a location just outside the town, the king or mayor puts on a brief re-enactment of Brann’s slaying of the boar, and then everyone sits down for the feast. On this day only, peasants and nobles eat at the same tables.
The Feast of Brann is popular among the peasants, as they get free food and it gives them a unique chance to make connections with the nobility. The nobles, however, are less enthusiastic about it. The royal family always attends, though occasionally a prince or princess might sit out. Most of the feudal lords only attend if they happen to be in the capital – they don’t go to any local festivals at towns on their fief.
The king requires that every noble family send a representative to all festivals within their fief, and anyone at court is expected to attend. However, most noble families only do the absolute minimum, sending a son, daughter, niece, or nephew to each town on their fief.
According to the legend, Brann and his people hailed from Maridion, a small country east of the Backbone, nestled amongst the foothills. As the legend goes, Maridion was annexed by the growing Zharnak Empire, who killed its king, Brann’s father, and enslaved many of the people, particularly the nobility. However, Brann staged a great escape with many fellow Maridionans and led them through the Backbone, eventually to arrive at the River Narith where he slew a great dire boar for his people to feast upon.
Though humans were already living in the area, it was only in a few scattered villages with only occasional inter-village contact. This moment, then, is credited as the founding of the Kingdom of Narathion. The festival itself was instituted by his grandson, King Brann the Second.
These events occurred around five to seven centuries ago – the exact date has been forgotten to all but the most dedicated historians. Naturally, the legend is a somewhat exaggerated account, but it nevertheless hits all the main points accurately.