January 31st – The Festival of Saint Osslaw

Visitors to Buentoille are please asked to take especial care whilst traversing the streets today; many followers of the Chastise Church will be particularly vulnerable as they perform their devotions to Saint Osslaw. In what is also commonly known as The Blindfolded Festival, acolytes of Saint Osslaw will cover their eyes for 56 hours, beginning at 6:00 this morning, and attempt to go about their daily lives as if nothing were different.

Saint Osslaw was the chief of staff to Queen Taentille the Second, organising the state of her palaces, ensuring that she was in all ways catered for. Unfortunately for Osslaw (whose real name was Ulf Cercovytch) he accidentally walked into the Queen’s bed chamber when she was changing, catching a glimpse of her shoulder. As punishment Osslaw’s eyes were gouged out with a silver spoon and eaten by the Queen herself; apparently she believed that her beauty was a divine gift that would lessen if shared, and hoped to reacquire that which he had supposedly stolen from her. Except for that moment, the Queen was never seen alive by anyone but her mother without her characteristic black suit with face-wrap, gloves and goggles.

Osslaw stayed in the Queen’s service for almost thirty years after this life-defining incident. Whilst he had been known as a lascivious man in his youth, his blinding appears to have severely changed him, and he became an emphatic follower of the Chastise Church. He attended services every Wednesday and did his best to honour the Church’s teachings, but the revelations that led to his Ascension were not made public until he retreated to the Silver Sanctuary (a collective hermitage high in the Ancestor Mountains to the north of Buentoille) at the age of 80, once he was officially released from service.

When he reached the Sanctuary, he revealed that when he had begun to attend the Church he also began to see once again. At first he would see swirling colours and distorted visions of his own past, but eventually he began to see the world around him, too. It seems that this holy vision was further augmented than normal human sight. He won large amounts gambling, being able to ‘see through’ the lies and bluffs of other people.

The reason that this gift was not revealed for so long was to protect Osslaw from the Queen. He claimed that even when she was clothed he could see her true form; that she was a goblin in disguise. The revelations incited rioting and the disappearance of the Tablich Taentille line, the (now-elderly) queen and her family being publicly hanged by a sect of witch hunters. It was not helpful to their cause that the family’s ancestors could be traced to Strigaxia; they were supplanted by another royal line, the Juslaw Itivil, who had close ties to the Church. The Queen’s body was cremated after her death, but contemporary reports suggest that she might have suffered from disfiguring burns at a young age.

The 56 hours without sight that followers of Saint Osslaw will today volunteer are intended to be symbolic for the 56 years that he lived after his blinding. Whilst the Orderlies of Good Health will have lain out lines on many popular routes through the City, with an Orderly at each junction giving directions, many see this as heretical, and eschew this help, favouring their own interpretation that one must attempt to go about their life as if nothing were different at all. Please do not be surprised if the blindfolded followers deny the existence of their blindfolds.

In 1957 Artistic Buentoillitant Magazine claimed that secret covens of women gather on this day to eat lychee fruit from silver spoons. The practice is proscribed by the church as witchcraft, but this is thought to merely encourage these mystery women.

Other festivals happening today:

  • The Festival of Soft Music and Salt Baths

  • Katte Fisher’s Festival of Printed Oddities

  • The Feast of January