Early Evening, 12 Verdil, 973 IR
Northgate, Port Hope, Mereflow Valley
After your return to the Copper Crozier and a good night's sleep, most of you (other than Oskav, who is still face-down in spellbook copying) are set to enjoy your first actual day off in . . . quite a while, really. It's remarkably pleasant to be clean, fed, warm, and not obliged to do anything important for a change. By the afternoon, it's time to start getting ready to attend the Earl of Eastrit's masquerade ball, which is due to begin shortly after sunset. You opt to arrive slightly late, as is fashionable.
Eastrit House, the earl's town residence, turns out to be just outside of Port Hope's eastern gates, where an expansive estate may be had without bankrupting oneself—or demolishing several city blocks in order to clear the land necessary for lawns, gardens, stables, and all the other accoutrements of a powerful nobleman's lifestyle. The earl clearly has spared no expense: his "townhouse" is the centerpiece of a large estate on perhaps ten acres of land. A sweeping semi-circular drive, lined with freshly-leafed birch trees and blazing lantern posts, leads up to the front door of the building, which is constructed of stark white granite with a dark slate roof. The windows all over the front of the building are ablaze with light, and the household must be burning through hundreds of candles and gallons upon gallons of lamp oil to produce such illumination. On the eastern end of the building, vast floor-to-ceiling windows have been thrown open to admit the cool spring air into the ballroom.
The front door is clearly a locus of considerable activity, with grooms, footmen, and other servants hurrying about, assisting guests with their horses and carriages as they arrive for the party.