In the Chastise Church, saints are instructive figures, whose life and deeds teach you how to live a good life, to Attune oneself to the world (Attunement, the achievement of a transcendent understanding of the world, is a cornerstone of Chastise Church dogma), and to get into heaven. Occasionally, however, you need examples of what not to do, so that you may avoid poor choices and pitfalls; this is where Saint Delany the Waylaid, the ‘bad saint’, comes in. Today his legacy will be celebrated by a day’s fasting, a small gesture of respect and thanks to the man whose poor example has supposedly saved hundreds of others from the clutches of the Waylayer.
We know that it was March when the Waylaying of Saint Delany (born Haroldt Chivertail) took place, because according to all the scripture he was ‘fasting for a month, in the hopes of achieving Attunement,’ and began this fast when ‘the hunter stood upright in the sky,’ (referring to the angle of the constellation, Bargus the Hunter, which would place the beginning of the fast on the 27th of February). His fast ended prematurely; he did not even make it to when ‘the red ryders took to the sky,’ (this is more obscure, but is thought to refer to the red-coloured upper-atmospheric lighting which is often observed above the Darkening Storm which visits Buentoille in mid-to-late March). As the date of these ‘red ryders’ is so changeable, it is not know exactly when Delany was waylaid, but the Church is happy to assign the 13th day of the month to him, because of its unlucky associations.
To aid the fasting and attempts at Attunement, Delany travelled to the top of the Ancestor Mountains, where there is little in the way of sustenance available to even the most determined forager or hunter, and where the views across the surrounding lands are often spectacular. It took him a week to reach the peak, and when he reached the top he met another pilgrim, who had seemingly chosen the exact same spot to sit in relection. Somewhat annoyed (Delany had hoped to not be distracted by other humans whilst he tried to attain Attunement), Delany sat down next to the other figure, hoping that soon his fast would be over and Delany would be alone again. The figure showed no recognition of Delany. The scripture is very clear that this man was the Waylayer in disguise.
It’s difficult to sit next to someone, alone, on a mountain, for any length of time without speaking to them. Eventually Delany could take it no longer. ‘What are you doing in my fasting spot?’ said the saint, after half a day. He had been driven to anger slowly, the other man’s serene face and the apparent lack of notice he had given to Delany had irked him progressively more as the day wore on, eventually to the extent where he could not focus on his own spiritual Attunement.
The Waylayer opened his eyes slowly and looked around to Delany. ‘Please, be quiet, I am trying to Attune, I did it yesterday,’ he said, and closed his eyes once again.
‘But that is what I am trying to do!’ Said Delany, his temper growing. There was no response from the other man. Delany tried to focus in on himself (‘for is it not said that we hold the world inside us; is this not the essence of Attunement?’), but he could not forget the man sitting next to him. Each time he began to relax, the man would cough, or sigh, or some other small, seemingly accidental noise. ‘Will you stop that! How do you remain so calm and composed? How have you Attuned when I cannot?’
Once again, the other man opened his eyes and looked around. ‘If I tell you, will you leave me alone? Will you go from this place to another peak?’ Delany begrudgingly accepted this deal. ‘Fine then,’ said the man, ‘it is very simple. You focus in on the very small and you think about how it is the same as the very large. These ants, for example,’ he gestured to a small group running across a rock at his feet, ‘they are just like us, running around completely pointlessly, but to them there seems to be some meaning to their random patterns. There is not. The essence of Attunement is realising the complete lack of meaning in this world.’
His words were a blow to Delany, who had hoped to achieve knowledge of some higher meaning through his Attunement. ‘Okay,’ he said, looking dejected, and began to traipse back down the mountain. On his way back down, the Waylayer materialised itself once again into the form of a shining golden woman that stood in his path. ‘What are you?’ Said Delany, in amazement. ‘I am an angel,’ said the Waylayer, ‘sent to save you from this terrible idea you have that there is no meaning to the world; I am here to tell you the word of god, and the meaning he has laid out for all of us!’
According to the scriptures of the Church, Delany was so sad, so hungry for meaning in his life, that he readily accepted the Waylayer’s lies as truth. He became a monk for the Church of Our Holy Lord and Saviour (an opposing faith in Buentoille at the time), and when he died he travelled not to heaven but became a slave in the Waylayer’s personal realm.
Secular historians have pointed out that the story of Saint Delany is a perfect example of the propagandist power of the Chastise Church; through the story they are able to spin the defection of a high-level religious leader (Delany was a well-loved preacher who changed his faith) into a parable that supports their own religion and aims. The Church of Our Holy Lord and Saviour still exists today, despite sustained abuse and persecution by the Chastise Church over the years.
Other festivals happening today:
- The Church of Our Holy Lord and Saviour’s Day of Resistance and Conversion