Completely unannounced, Norwick's Great Hall bustles with activity. The long tables are laid out, end to end, with additional tables placed outside in the sunny grass. The doors to the Hall are chalked open, and commoners, adventurers and travelers alike are invited to partake in a community feast. Those who attend are encouraged to engage in neighborly communication and pleasantries with the other members of the great town of Norwick, and enjoy an afternoon of food and drink. When asked about the occasion, staffers simply say that the event is "to promote camaraderie and respect."
At the beginning of the feast, Hannibal, dressed in a clean, but faded commoner's tunic raises an earthenware goblet to address those assembled, the only jewelry he wears is the Norwick Chancellor's signet ring.
"Friends, family and travelers, please, seat yourselves and be welcome at this table of ours. It has been too long since we sat together and enjoyed the company of our neighbors and countrymen. You may notice that our tight knit community has grown in recent times, with the neighboring lands providing us additional commerce in exchange for our protections. Allow me to introduce Talbot Anderson, a community leader among our newly allied neighbors, and a member of our Redcloaks."
Hannibal smiles warmly, his eyes sparkling as he raises his cup to Talbot.
"Many of you have heard rumors of Talbot Anderson, the man who stood up for his beliefs despite the odds stacked against him, and died for his steadfast dedication to his cause. We are pleased to have Mister Talbot, and his community, among us, just as I am glad to inform you that Mister Talbot is overseeing the protection of Norwick's newest citizens in the farmlands outside our walls. None know those lands better than he, and Norwick is better protected knowing he and his men are securing the outlying areas. May we all be united in this frontier community, as we are a bastion of peace and comfort, surrounded by hostility."
Hannibal takes a sip, nodding to Talbot. He places his goblet on the table in front of him before speaking again.
"Our northern neighbors in the city have fallen upon hard times. They are wracked with instability caused by an enemy who hides behind smoke and mirrors. This enemy feeds on doubt, fear and confusion. He will do anything he can to cloak his movements and strike at the heart of governance in an effort to destabilize legitimacy. As neighbors in a hostile land, we must express our condolences to our Northerly neighbors, despite the differences we harbor. I simply ask that you remain respectful of them during these difficult days. In harsh times, a few words of comfort can make a world of difference to the beleaguered. Remember, all are welcome in Norwick, so long as they follow our laws and respect the way of life we have carved out of this unforgiving land. Norwick protects her own."
Hannibal smiles faintly, his eyes crinkling slightly at the sides.
"Now, somber news out of the way, Norwick is stronger than ever. Miss Maria, the Arcane Advisor, has provided our valiant protectors with well needed magical gear. Our walls have been bolstered to many times their previous strength, our new south gate has not been destroyed, and we have not suffered a heavy assault or siege in quite some time. And we are now more ready than ever if one should be bold enough to challenge us. Our trade has flourished with the new commerce agreements we have with the surrounding lands, and we have acquired many new protectors of our lands. Times for us are good, and that is because of the steadfast contributions to our community each of you makes, and all you offer. Know that you are a vital and integral piece of Norwick, and the success of our beloved Norwick is due to you. So, I raise my glass again, to each of you. "
Hannibal smiles and raises his glass again to the people of Norwick, taking a deep drink.
"Lastly, before we all dig in to this delightful meal that has so generously been provided, I have one final request of you. Respect your neighbor, voice your concerns, and reward yourself for your labor. There is an old saying amongst warriors, and I feel it belongs here. The proverb goes, 'alone we go fast, but together we go far.' My friends, we are going far, because we are together. Despite what lies outside our walls, we are united. We are friends, families, and neighbors, and we understand that Norwick comes first."
With that, Hannibal raises his glass a final time before taking his seat.
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A silent Hin stands to head off, unsure what to think.
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Citizens of Norwick cheer to their Chancellor's words. They laugh and merrily enjoy the banquet. Many remark on recent matters: "That's Talbot Anderson. Isn't he the villain from Peltarch? What's the Chancellor doing with him?" remarks one. "If history's any lesson, a villain from Peltarch may well be a hero in Norwick," replies another.
Rumors abound that Anderson already quelled several bandit groups. Anderson is already immensely popular with the region of Duskhaven, which is Norwick's most recent territorial acquisition, though it seems that the Redcloaks, barbarians, and dwarves of Norwick are also taking a liking to him.
Talbot himself remarks, after the Chancellor's speech: "We're very lucky to have found friends here in the South. I pray for a long and prosperous future for us all. The Chancellor has kindly brought us into this community, and we owe it to our newfound friends to be grateful." The Duskhavians applaud, and begin to mingle with the Norwickians.
[DM Xanatos Gambit]