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Festival week in Roqoo


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(30 HEV 22)

Alemma stood on the walkway outside her bakery window inspecting her latest display, considering if she had finally out done herself and her Tolva kala display from a few years ago that friends in the allirid still spoke about. She smiled and stepped back to take in the frontage of her shop, the only bakery in this district of Nime, the coastal resort city of Roqoo. Content with her displays and décor, Alemma turned and glanced down the avenue buzzing with activity as shopkeepers and locals hurried about finishing the many errands and preparations for the coming Sventa festival week. Alemma turned back to the bakery, entering just as her assistant burst through the kitchen shutters, arms stacked with trays of pastries. 

“Ay, slow down, Ivka!,” Alemma insisted as she hustled to hold open the shutter for the younger women, trays wobbling in her arms. “If you drop all those sventallas, we’ll not only have an angry allirid, think about how I am going to feel.”

“I have it, A’ma. Honestly, it's as if I haven’t worked by your side for the past five years!” the girl huffed, placing trays on the counter and moving the delicate pastries into a display case one by one. “I still hate all the work festival weeks require. Sometimes I wish we had fewer of them, you know?”

Alemma chuckled as she took a tray of sventallas and began placing them in an upper case. “You wouldn’t say that if you worked in a temple or the government. Plus, if we didn’t have the festival weeks, you’d miss all my special treats.”

“Well… not the fish cakes you go on and on about during Juhla kausi,” quipped a muffled Ivka, her upper body firmly lodged in the display case. Turning in mock astonishment, Alemma grabbed her chest. “You’re telling me after all this time that you don’t like my kaustaa? The allirid go nuts for them!” 

Ivka unwedged herself from the case and turned to face her boss, “and by that you really mean Onni loves them and would be lost without his annual order of five dozen. Not that he’d blow away without them or anything…” Alemma rolled her eyes and added her tray to Ivka’s stack. “First, Onni isn’t the only batch order we get for those, by the way. And while you may not like the kaustaa, don’t think I didn’t see you sneaking those friskas during Juhla Trian." She picked up the stack of empty trays, thrusting them toward Ivka. "Now get these back to Martti and then you can both go home.”

Ivka made a motion as if to protest, before Alemma caught her eye. “We have more than enough for the first day of Sventa, even if Onni and his boys stop in."

“Okay, A’ma. Just promise me you’re not going to stay here and crank out another triple batch of tissa cookies.”

Alemma smiled at the girl and patted her hand, “no, dear, I promise. I won’t stay much longer.” Motioning toward the front of the shop, “I don’t know if you’ve noticed. But I think I finally out did that Tolva kala display that the allirid was so fond of. Not to mention, we’ll have Tish, Juuso, and Kirst around first thing tomorrow to handle orders from the week.” Ivka smiled, “oh, so maybe I’ll finally feel like a temple worker tomorrow then since they'll be handling all the heavy lifting.”

“See, I told you festival weeks weren’t that bad. Nyt rizan, Ivka”

Nyt rizan, A’ma. I’ll see you dark and early,” Ivka responded, balancing the stack of empty trays as she pushed through the shutters.

As Alemma walked home later, taking in the warmth of late afternoon sunshine, she considered Ivka’s stance. Sure, as a tradesperson like most of her allirid, Alemma was busiest in the days leading up to each festival week. But the time in between was what she treasured most. The daily returning customers from the allirid, the occasional tourist, and the time to perfect her newer and riskier recipes. Entering her home to the sounds of her family preparing the afternoon meal, she sighed. Tomorrow began Sventa, the festival week that marked the end of the wet spring season and the beginning of the mid-year season and the beginning of her busiest period. 

Edited by Roqoo
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(30 HEV 22)

Across the sparkling metropolis that was Roqoo's largest city, Nime, Torsti Annala, a slender, tanned Roquan of average height, was waiting on his usual afternoon metro after his usual shift. In fact the only thing that was unusual was that tomorrow began the Sventa festival which not only kicked off the Keskivuoden juhlaa, or Mid-year celebrations, it brought the promise of warmer days. As was typical for Roqoo at Mid-year, the winds swept out the rainy, cloudy kevat (spring) and the seas delivered tourists by the thousand. All arriving to bask in the warm summer days and revel at the many natural and cultural wonders that lay beyond the city's outskirts. 

As a mid-level administrator at one of the larger cruise ports, many would consider Mid-year to be Torsti's least favorite season. But that was where they'd be wrong. In fact, Torsti enjoyed Mid-year more than any other season and for one simple reason: outsiders. While working at the cruise port was several times less than exciting, the job provided a unique benefit of allowing Torsti an opportunity to interact with ship captains and their crew in ways few others in Nime could beat. Sure he really only got the benefit a third of the year, but that was worth it… right?

Just as he was considering his position, a rather gnarly gust of wind blew across the platform, pulling at his rainwear and hat. His previous train of thought derailed, Torsti glanced at his watch willing the seconds to move by faster so he could finally be away from the wind and sea and on his way home. Despite his efforts the seconds ticked on at the same pace, so Torsti zipped his jacket to his throat, occupying his mind with thoughts of the warm sventallas that his mother and grandmother would have waiting for him and his extended family when they gathered tomorrow for their customary Sventa brunsii (brunch). 

A chirp sounded across the platform, altering Torsti and the dozens of other people around him of the train's imminent arrival. Boarding quickly, Torsti found a seat with relative ease before noticing that the advertising displays were conspicuously clear of any mention of the newest skin care line from whatever cosmetic company or advertisements for one of Nime's clubs. Each panel now displaying colorful images of families attending worship or gathering with traditional Sventa blessings scrawled across them. At the sight Torsti couldn't help but think about the expense the government went to every couple months for one festival or another. In fact, he was pretty sure he'd read somewhere about a government official whose sole job was planning all official, national activities that took place during the festival weeks and the sacred Lidi holiday. 

At this point the metro had picked up considerable speed and outside the window flashed multi-colored splotches of various banners, bunting, and ribbons that adorned the shops, homes, and government buildings of the Satama district as was typical during Roqoo’s many festivals. As the largest and arguably most important district of Nime, the Satama district spread out from the city’s vast harbor and port facilities encompassing the primary administrative buildings and most of the finer accommodations in the city and boasted some of Nime’s most elaborate festival decorations. As the train made its way out of Satama and into the neighboring district Torsti’s thoughts turned to memories of his youth and the days when he and his brothers would paper the family homestead in purple, teal, and cream. Their handmade decorations hanging from every surface, indoors and out. Nowadays that task largely fell to Torsti’s nieces and nephews who had been furiously cutting, painting, crafting, and hanging all matter of Sventa decor over the past week. He was sure that by dinner time that evening, his homestead’s decorations would rival those of the local temple. 

Nearly 30 minutes later a melodic female voice announced the impending arrival at the Lahela district platform, tearing Torsti from his reverie. He stood and joined a few other riders as they sidled towards the doors, each careful to avoid swaying into each other as the metro eased to a stop and the doors released. Stepping onto the platform, Torsti felt the noticeably warmer temperatures afforded to this district’s considerable distance from the sea. The former passengers quickly dispersed across the platform and Torsti headed for the southern exit just as his good friend Launo was heading toward him. 

Hyvaa iltaa, Launo,” Torsti greeted the shorter man. “Heading back into the city this late?” 

Iltaa, Torsti. Yes, Milja asked if I could run over to Analemma bakery for more sventallas. Apparently her brother and his family are coming over from Anselm and she is afraid we won’t have enough. As if she doesn’t have a few dozen stashed away already,” he said, an overtone of sarcasm edging into his voice.

Torsti nodded in agreement, chuckling lightly, “I don’t blame her. Alemma’s sventalla are some of the best in the city. If she were closer, I’d probably weigh several kilos more myself.”

“Don’t I know it?” he agreed. “Do you guys have any unorthodox plans this Sventa?”

Torsti shook his head. “No, we’ll be fairly traditional this year. Although I think my mother would like us to go to worship at her brother’s temple over in Joki. So that will take up most of Livoi (Thursday), but she hasn’t seen that part of the family since Tolva kala (the winter festival), so I promised her that we’d all take the trip.”

“And I thought a trip a few kilometers away was an inconvenience.” Launo replied with a smirk. “But I suppose it is Sventa and we all know mothers aren’t to be denied their desires.”

“Indeed. Well you’d better be off before you miss your train and if I dawdle any longer, Sanna is likely to rally a search. Nyt rezan, Launo.” 

Nyt rezan, Tor,” the man said and headed for the platform. 

Exiting the station, Torsti made his way through the central plaza of Lahela, one of the farther outlying districts of Nime. At about 20 kilometers from the central and largest district of the city, the Lahela district was far more residential and way less touristy. In fact, Torsti couldn’t think of a single reason any tourist would venture to the district or any of its alliridae unless they happened to be a native Roquan visiting family. But that is what made Lahela such a peaceful place to live. Large enough that there were several alliridae spreading out from the central plaza and main metro station, each providing a variety of entertainment and social opportunities for locals, but still small and out-of-the-way enough to discourage crowds. Sure, Torsti loved interacting with tourists and learning about their adventures, homelands, and customs. But he firmly believed those activities were reserved for the Satama and other inner districts. Lahela and it’s alliridae were for the locals to escape from the tourists and enjoy their holidays, family gatherings, and worship. Which was exactly what Torsti had planned for the next week. 

Edited by Roqoo
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  • 1 year later...

CAPTAIN’S LOG - 30 KAV 23; 1 MAR 23 - The RJ Ikuinen traverses the Suuri north toward Lake Sinona and the ports of Ivalo. The crew are jubilant of tomorrow’s day-bring and the onset of the Juhla Niilo festival week and the shoreleave afforded to them. The Ikuinen is scheduled for regular maintenance following the juhla at facilities in Ivalo. All systems remain at full function during this journey from Alavus. I can’t help but lean into my superstitions and the old legends that the holy waters of Rauhallinen heal all those who float there, man and machine alike, erged by the echoes of my forefathers which plague my thoughts this evening. Like my thoughts, the crew conversations during galley time this moon spoke of ancestors, historical times, and family. I expect the events this coming week will bring healing to my band of rivermen just as Rauhallinen might have brought to the creaking hull of my riverboat. Alas, the lights of Sinona call to us in the pilothouse beckoning us in with the promise of the Niilo founders’ balls, remembrance meals, and lantern launches. The helmsmen deftly navigates us through the channel that delineates the swift depths of the Suuri from the calm waves of the broader waters of Lake Sinona. The sight of the Sinona has noticeably leavend crew spirits. The promise of Niilo tanska and the sweet cranberry filling are likewise enticing me to see our journey at an end. 

CAPTAIN’S LOG - 1 JN 23; 2 MAR 23 - The RJ Ikuinen and crew arrived as scheduled in port at Ivalo - Jokivenesatama - and crew disembarked for the Juhla Niilo festivities. Cook left plenty of traditional foods aboard for my consumption. While the crew deserves days’ rest after continuous voyages along the Suuri from ports in resort city Nime through the Kaita to Tyrnava and the Sisamari and capital Bellamy. I am to deliver the Ikuinen to the drydocks of Ivalo after the close of Niilo. I will make the journey alone as it is only across the city near the inflow of the Haara at the docks of Haaralahti, just around the Sekoituspiste where the waters of the Suuri and Haara meet as they mix within the basin that is Lake Sinona.

CAPTAIN’S LOG - 7 JN 23; 8 MAR 23 - I have prepared the RJ Ikuinen for her journey tomorrow to the drydocks at the Haaralahti port facilities in eastern Ivalo. I am thankful to Cook for the well stocked larden I was left with. It has taken all festival, but I have nearly eaten the stocked pantry empty. Luckily, I was able to give some of the spoils to young couples embarking on Niilo holiday day cruises from the river port. Despite the meals that were so well prepared, I look forward to non-festival fare that I will consume during my short shore leave which begins tomorrow. The drydock work is expected to take until mid-Heva. The crew has been compensated with extended shore leave until after the Sventa festival that ushers in the Mid-Year Celebrations. I expect many to take odd jobs during the two months following Niilo. I however have entered a charter contract with a river cruiser out of Varkaus on the Sisamari. Following delivery of Ikuinen at Ivalo drydocks, I will board a river catamaran for Varkaus by way of Bellamy. This will remain my last log as Captain of Ikuinen until 17 HEVA 23 when I return post-drydock repairs. 

CAPTAIN’S LOG - 3 LIR 23; 11 MAR 23 - I, Tuomo Elstela, have arrived in Varkaus and assumed command of the small river cruiser RJ Jokisaukko of which I will captain for the next few weeks to cover her primary, Captain Nykopp. Based on the schedule I was given by First Officer Wiklof, our first sailing is set to depart this afternoon, a quick overnight cruise to the mother waters at the city of Navala. Following, we are to depart to Raahe at the mouth of the mighty Errotua where it enters the mother waters that form the Aitivedet of Chenshas Lake. It has been many expeditions since I have been to Raahe and the currents of Errotua that rock the ports. The crew of Jokisaukko speak fondly of Raahe and the waters of Aitivedet. I expect I will rely heavily on the First Officer, as I warned him, to ensure the operations of this cruiser remain efficient and do not forsake the name of this vessel away from the silly, slippery, and sly river otter. 

CAPTAIN’S LOG - 4 LIR 23; 12 MAR 23 - The RJ Jokisaukko, crew, and guests arrived safely in the river ports of Navala at the source of our mighty mother river, the Suuri. First Officer Wiklof has provided upstanding assistance in operations of the river cruiser. I wonder why the primary captain did not tap him for his relief. If my short contract serving on the Jokisaukko continues as smoothly as this first voyage, I will be having a lengthy conversation with Captain Nykopp and the cruiser owners with strong recommendations for the First Officer. Our next trip begins at daybreak tomorrow as we remain in port this afternoon and evening for crew relief and onloading of the cargo bound for Raahe. We will overnight tomorrow in the ports of Errotua before returning to Navala via sojourns to smaller cities along the Aitivedet shoreline and the Raanta peninsula. I am enjoying the warmer climate and sunnier weather afforded to southern dales of Roqoo. Weather forecasts call for much of the same over the next few days. I can only pray it continues throughout this contract. 

CAPTAIN’S LOG - 5 LIR 23; 13 MAR 23 - Overall the voyage from Navala to Raahe was uneventful and easily traversed as we are only carrying non-live cargo. The crew completed necessary maintenance and inspections throughout the journey. One inspection found warning signs that may relate to needed engine service. I called ahead to the portmaster at Raahe to request names of shipwrights available for urgent engine inspection and service, if needed. A small crew will meet us upon arrival in hopes that we can maintain our return timetable to Navala, scheduled for mid-morning departure tomorrow. First Officer Wiklof seems less worried as he speaks fondly of the Jokisaukko and its “playful ways” of keeping her crew invested in her upkeep. His fondness for this vessel makes me yearn harder for the familiar cabins and pilothouse of my own Ikuinen. 

CAPTAIN’S LOG - 6 LIR 23; 13 MAR 23 - The engine mechanics from a local shipwright of Raahe have given the Jokisaukko a clean bill of health following their inspection. Filters were replaced and belts cleaned. While the report and invoice is brief, I can’t help but feel the vessel has returned to the feline purr she exhibited the first voyage I undertook. First Officer Wiklof has only smirked about my overeagerness to order an inspection. Perhaps it was unnecessary, but I can leave port this morning confident our clients nor the crew will be disappointed due to delays or schedule changes. Cargo has been loaded and a small contingent of fisherfolk have boarded as we prepare to set out.   

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