The Dolphin Festival

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Once a year, very predictably, an enormous herd of pelagic dolphins comes to the Whispering Sound. They resemble these real-world dolphins: They are only about 8 feet long (about two thirds the size of common bottlenose dolphins we're familiar with RL), and they make very bird-like chirping noises. Thousands of them enter the sound from the open sea, stay a few weeks, and then leave, leaving behind pregnant females who will soon give birth, and taking with them the mothers and yearlings that spent the previous year in the sheltered waters of the sound. For a short time, the seas around Oldtown are teeming with chirping, leaping dolphins

Sailors from all around the world (except for the Ibbenese, who routinely hunt all types of cetaceans) consider these animals to be lucky, as they are known to push drowning men out of the water and to follow ships. The event of their arrival and stay in the Whispering Sound has been celebrated for centuries. The Faith of the Seven embraces it, considering the Dolphins' visit to be sacred to The Mother.

Oldtown holds a festival in honour of this event. There are street performers, jugglers, dancers, and feasts. Dolphin-shaped cakes are eaten, as are marzipan dolphins.

There is a city-wide event to greet the animals when they are considered to have fully made their arrival. Every ship and boat in Oldtown will set out into the sound, forming a large flotilla. Owners of ships and boats can earn extra coin — everybody in town wants to go. The people wave small white and blue pennants at the dolphins and throw small fish to them. If you are rich, it is considered traditional and proper to buy large barrels of the fish and throw them to the smallfolk at the docks before the flotilla sets out, so that the people can all have fish to throw to the dolphins. Of course, every year some drunk merrymakers jump out of the boats to swim and get pushed about by the dolphins.

After this, there is a parade, with dancers and big cloth dolphin puppets, each animated by two puppeteers, using sticks. Knights and other notable visitors who have come for the event will also march.

A tourney is to follow, lasting a few days. Because this celebration is considered to be dedicated to the Mother, it is a popular tourney for poorer hedge-knights — mercy is expected, so a knight who is unhorsed and loses his horse and armour, as a result, can expect the ransom for his items to be generously low. There are jousts, single-combat competitions in swordsmanship, and a melee for anointed knights. There are also the same set of contests as a tirocinium, open only to newly anointed, inexperienced knights, and squires nearing knighthood. There will also be single-combat competitions in swordsmanship open to freeriders (non-knights). The tourney includes archery and staff competitions, open to everyone.

Following it are non-tourney sports events — wrestling and the hammer-throw. Also horse-races, and coursing, where sighthounds are set to run down a hare when it is released from a box. Trials for falcons and hawks where the birds are set at pigeons or rabbits are organized as contest and display.

The Sept will hold special services to The Mother, and the pious are encouraged to honour her with gifts to the needy and acts of mercy.

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