We are all but ghosts when we visit the House That is the World, how could we be anything else? Strange reflections of a world that was, manifestations of some monstrous darkness that lies beyond their door. For those who live in the House That is the World, nobody else exists.
There are twenty three people living in the House, though new arrivals may have been born into their alternate version of Buentoille since last year’s ‘open day’, as the yearly check-up from the social services and law enforcement has been imaginatively termed by the Cult’s leader, Wassily Sermonsbrood. The Cult of His Living Majesty is has been around for a long time, and the ‘majesty’ in question (Sermonsbrood) is well experienced in keeping his strange charade going.
According to Sermonsbrood, none of us exist any more, not since ‘The Cataclysm,’ a loosely-described event through which our world slipped into a state of non-existence due to an ‘arcane device,’ an ‘infernal machine that turns still in the bowels of Strigaxia.’ However, Sermonsbrood was able to use his ‘holy powers’ (which he apparently gained by killing a god) to protect the building in which his Cult were housed, saving their lives. Allegedly the world outside was destroyed by a darkness that is evil incarnate, so when looking out the windows the other cultists see it as it was before the destruction, a trick and torment from this evil being. The cultists believe that stepping outside would result in their immediate deaths, and that the people who come into their homes today are agents of the infernal machine, trying to tempt them into the dark.
The garden behind the House is high-walled, but occasionally cultists can be seen sitting atop this perimeter, gazing longingly out at a world they believe they have lost. Within the walls the cultists grow most of the food they eat, although this would not be enough for so many to survive without leaving the property. Obviously, with his ‘divine powers,’ Sermonsbrood is able to step outside, where he supposedly also uses these powers to ‘transmute’ food and other goods from the darkness.
Other random inspections are carried out on the House, ensuring that no abuses have been committed against the potentially vulnerable people living there, besides the lack of proper education and freedom that their beliefs force upon them. There have been several debates regarding the children born into their tiny world, as to whether they should be separated from their parents for their own good, but ultimately it has been decided to keep them together. These visits are rationalised by Sermonsbrood to his followers as the result of a ‘deal’ he made with the darkness, by which he does not hinder their entry, so long as the darkness does not attempt to hinder his passage though it.
As well as the municipal services, occasionally journalists are allowed by Sermonsbrood into the house, for no discernible reason other than Sermonsbrood’s vanity. Indeed Sermonsbrood’s motives have always been something of a mystery. Unlike other historical cult leaders, there is no evidence that he as attempted to use his status in the community for sexual gratification or any other sort of physical exploitation. Indeed, the arrangement requires Sermonsbrood to work long hours gathering food and other goods outside the House, and he has all-but spent the small fortune he once won on the Day of Presentation long before he became a cult leader, on these ends. Perhaps he is motivated by the unconditional love he receives from his followers, or maybe he simply revels in the success of his ruse.
Sermonsbrood hasn’t been entirely successful; five people have left the House of their own accord, and one was removed by the health service to a nearby hospital for cancer treatment (according to Sermonsbrood he was already dead, or he would not have let the man be taken). Obviously all these people quickly realised that they hadn’t died, although a few required extensive therapy to acclimatise them to the real world. A few of them have returned to the Cult in an attempt to get others to leave too, but every time they were shunned by the cultists, believed to be malevolent manifestations sent to get them to step out into the dark.
Because there is no evidence of physical exploitation, as attested to by those who have left the Cult and the frequent inspections, and because of the laws which ban persecution of individuals based on religion, the Cult has so-far survived. Sermonsbrood is canny enough and has enough knowledge of Buentoilliçan law to avoid arrest and charges of abuse (Sermonsbrood makes it very clear that all Cult members are free to leave, just that he believes this will result in their death), but soon new proposed laws may make the forms of coercion he commands illegal. However, this may not be the main threat to the integrity of the Cult, especially given that these laws are nowhere near to being passed; as of January, Wassily Sermonsbrood is ninety six years old, and some sources suggest that this supposedly immortal personage is showing signs of illness.
Other festivals happening today:
- The Buentoille Bay Winter Rowing Race Finals
- The Day of Pig and Cattle Freedom
- The Festival of Hunting the Mythical Pignut